Lightning strike kills 2 in Harare in rare incident in urban area

HARARE– Two people died after being struck by lightning in Harare on Tuesday – a rare occurrence in an urban area, police said.

Leonard Matipano, 33, was planting a maize crop in a field in an open space near Ridgeview, Belvedere, when he met his death.

National police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said two brothers, Phillip Chiundudzi ,43, and Prosper Chiundudzi, 27, were struck by lightning while hiding from rain under a shed at Habakkuk Church at Retreat Park in Waterfalls.

Philip succumbed to his injuries upon admission at a local hospital while Prosper was admitted at the same hospital in a serious condition.

The rain season, while bringing hope and joy for farmers, also comes with tragedy across the country.

Zimbabwe is one of the world’s most lightning-prone countries: the holder of a world record in lightning-related fatalities. During the rainy season, lightning strikes typically kill up to 100 people, mostly rural dwellers.

On November 11 this month, a woman was killed by lightning in the Gwatakwata area of Binga after her thatched roof kitchen caught fire from a lightning strike.

Two days later, at Ndimimbili village in Lupane, Evans Moyo, 22, and his three-year-old daughter died from a lightning strike while sheltering from rain the kitchen. Moyo’s wife, Nomatter Moyo, 23, survived the strike with serious burns.

Zimbabwe has the most deaths from a single lightning incident, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. On December 23, 1975, 21 people were killed by a single bolt of lightning at Chinamasa, a small rural community in Manicaland.

Zimbabwe’s high lightning incidence rate is blamed on the prevalence of granite outcrops across the country. A study by the University of Zimbabwe showed that granite is radioactive and discharges gamma rays up to the cloud, in the process ionizing the air molecules.

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