Viet Nam News
KHÁNH HÒA – Rain comes along with terrible fear for the villagers of Ninh Thượng in Khánh Hòa Province.
On April 30th, 2014, lightning struck a drying ward in the village, killing one person and wounding 11 others.
“After being struck by lightning, I have become obsessed for my entire life,” said Lê Thị Ngọc Hạnh, a survivor of a lightning strike three years ago.
When dark clouds started forming and heading to the yard, Hạnh and her son rushed to collect their rice and then helped their neighbours. They dashed back to a nearby abandoned house as the first drops of rain came pouring down. Suddenly, lightning flashed out, striking their shelter.
“I felt like electric-shocked. It ran from my toes to tip. I was knocked out for a long time. When I regained consciousness, I was lying on the ground. My clothes were burnt and my phone was damaged. A necklace turned black, leaving a scar on my neck. The strike also ruptured my eardrum. I was hospitalised for a fortnight,” Hạnh added.
Lighting strikes are common in the area, though most do not result in death or injury. Võ Văn Ẩn, head of Tân Hiệp Village, told the Nông Thôn Ngày Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper that thunderstorms are common in the area. It is estimated that lightning hits the village 20 times per year.
Recollecting her accident, Hạnh was shaking in fear. Her wounded left leg became weak, making it hard to move.
“Luckily, people saved me by doing emergency first aid. Just five days ago, another lightning hit a light bulb in my house. I was totally paralysed,” she said.
70-year-old Nguyễn Văn Thưởng was another victim in the tragedy.
“All villagers are terrified of being struck by lightning. Therefore, I always remind my children not to stay outside and hold metal tools anytime dark clouds form,” he said.
Five years ago, he says, a young man was killed by lightning when walking on Tân Hiệp paddy filed.
“Why were so many our villagers lightning-struck?” cried Thưởng.
According to Thưởng, no one has dared to go outside when it is raining since the tragedy in 2014.
Since 2015, the village has witnessed several major thunderstorms. Heavy rains are usually accompanied with five lightning flashes. Loud thunder following the lightning bolt rattles residents. Lightning strikes have destroyed cattle and property.
Despite substantial research, the cause of frequent lightning strikes remains unknown.
One and only solution
Located 50km away from Nha Trang City, Tân Hiệp Village is the home of about 300 families. The village sits in a valley surrounded by mountains. Hồ Đình Thâu, a villager, said that lightning hit the area frequently.
“We all run seeking for a shelter when a rain starts. However, even staying indoors cannot save us. Because of poverty, no one ever thinks of setting up an anti-lightning system,” added Thâu.
Ngô Xuân Đại, deputy head of Ninh Thượng Ward People’s Committee, discussed the “lightning village” as a hopless case. According to him, seven villages of the ward are commonly lightning struck, with Tân Hiệp Village always at the centre.
However, since the cost of an anti-lightning system is too high, about VNĐ10 million (US$450) per family, the local authorities cannot pay for it.
“The sole solution at the present is to request people stay indoors when it is raining,” said Đại. – VNS