When 14-year-old Sheikh Mukhtar left home to play cricket on Wednesday afternoon, little did his widowed mother realise that he would never return.
Mukhtar was the youngest among six killed in a lightning strike around 3 pm in the Jaripada panchayat area of Orissa’s Khurda district. He and his teammates Bibhuti Parida(19), Rahul Nayak(15), Ajit Behera(15), Shahrukh Khan (20), Santosh Pradhan (15) had taken shelter in a building to escape a sudden hailstorm. “All of them died on the spot either due to massive cardiac arrest or shock. At least two sustained major burn injuries,” said Dr S N Mishra, who certified them dead.
The condition of another teenager Bhubaneswar Mohapatra(17), now shifted to a hospital in Bhubaneswar, was described by Mishra as critical.
All the deceased hailed from Baunsamula-Jhunapada village of Jaripada grampanchayat.
Of the 10 injured in the strike, 7 were initially treated at Khurda Community Health Centre and 3 at Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar. However, all of them were later shifted to Bhubaneswar. Doctors said they are out of danger.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh for each of the deceased and free treatment for the injured.
Villagers said 22 teenagers were about to play the final match of a tournament when the hailstorm struck.
A villager Prashant Nayak said: “As they raced off to the half-constructed building of my brother to escape the hailstorm, the lightning started. The first bolt spared them. But the second proved deadly. There was no roof and they had clung to each other leaning against the wall. By the time I reached, 6 had died and the rest had passed out”.
As the bodies were carried from the community health centre after postmortem, a pall of gloom fell over Baunsamula-Jhunapada village, mostly populated by daily labourers.
Mukhtar’s widowed mother Kauben Bewa frequently passed out. “My elder son pulled a trolley so that Mukhtar could study. He was expecting a first class in Matric. For whom do I live now,” she said.