Tuesday Evening at 5 PM Lightning hit several homes in Ndwana Village in Ntabankulu South Africa less than a hundred miles from the Eastern coast. During the most recent lightning attack four people were killed. A third, a member of the same family, was also struck but survived, but suffered from severe burns. Though this incident may sound like an incredibly unlikely high death toll for lightning for a region, this single village has had fourteen deaths attributed to lightning”¦ in the past month.
This is only the most recent incident of lightning which has for some reason chosen this village to terrorize. Among the dead are Athini Myolwa, Maphembetshiya Nfeketho, Nomakethe Myolwa, and Ntuthuko Myolwa. Though Tuesday’s incident came from a lightning storm lasting only a minute, the hailstorm that appeared next made it difficult for rescuers to reach the village in time to put out the fires. Two other homesteads in addition to the Myolwas’ were damaged by the disaster.
When it happened Mazulu Manange was sitting in his home with his son Ntsindiso, 35. Mazulu said, “My son told me that the neighbor’s house is burning. We both ran to help and when we reached there we found Madumeni crawling from the house.” Mazulu’s son’s testimony was, “We tried to enter the house, which was already engulfed by fire, in order to reach for others, but the roof collapsed on top of them.”
The village, mourning their loss, is still feeling the sorrow of another incident which claimed numerous lives in one split second. On October 27th, six peoples lives were claimed as lightning attacked the village in the most dramatic of the disasters so far. Another four were killed on November 7th. What could be causing lightning to constantly strike this village?
When lightning strikes, it heats the air directly around it to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface of the sun is no more than 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit making lightning one of the hottest forces in nature.
The world record for most lightning related fatalities is Zimbabwe, which has somewhere around 90 to 100 per year and is just north of the South African lightning strikes happening in Ndwana. While Ndwana has a little over one tenth of that number, these are only fatalities happening in the past year. In addition, Zimbabwe’s area is somewhere just over 150,000 square miles while Ndwana village is no more than 12 square miles. If we were to take the rate of this month’s lightning deaths in Ndwana and multiply it to be in proportion to the entirety of Zimbabwe (first multiplying time then size) the total death toll would be approximately 216 million deaths. Of course this is no more than an illustration on how unlikely and frequent these deaths have been. And keep in mind that Zimbabwe, to which we are comparing Ndwana village is the world’s most lightning related fatality prone country. It would appear that Ndwana village is the most likely place in the entire world to be killed by lightning this month.