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'Absurd' to say 18 elephants killed due to lightning: Assam engineer body seeks probe

By Our Representative 

The All Assam Engineer’s Association (AAEA), a Guwahati-based organisation, has said that the “tragic death of 18 wild Asiatic elephants due to electrocution by lightning within seconds”, as claimed by the State government, “can be justified only with an absurd argument.”
Demanding a high-level scientific investigation into the Nagaon incident that reportedly took place on 12 May night, AAEA said, “It as a matter of concern (caveat) for the wildlife and entire human race, if such a massive thunderbolt hit the planet”, referring to the State government, especially the forest minister, and the preliminary findings of a probe committee, who had claimed that it might be a “thunderbolt that killed all 18 bulky animals within seconds.”
Insisting that the debate “needs to focus on the essential volume of energy to strike on the jumbos at a time”, AAEA said, “Even if, it is assumed that the animals were close to each other during the incident, they needed more than 100 square-metre area to accommodate themselves (means the area of impact).”
AAEA continued, “Engineering science narrates that a lightning strike, created by the electrical discharges due to imbalances caused between the Earth and storm-clouds (or sometimes within the clouds), can produce 40 Kilovault to 120 kV and 5 Kiloampere to 200 kA. Hence in an average a lightning bolt (from cloud to ground) may generate around 1,000,000,000 Watt (around one billion volts of electricity) and it can heat the surrounding air to 53000º Fahrenheit.”
It added, “When the cloud-to-ground lightning hit an animal, it creates sudden disturbances to the internal electric signals of a living being, which is necessary for functioning of organs like heart, lungs and the nervous system. Normally the affected animal faces a cardiac arrest, brain Injuries, spinal cord damages or even severe burns and subsequently it succumbs to wounds.”
AAEA president Er Kailash Sarma, working president Er Nava J Thakuria and secretary Er Inamul Hye said, “Worldwide around 2,000 people are killed every year by the incidents of lightning, where of course many survive with long lasting injuries. Hammering all the elephants within seconds demands a huge volume of energy that could have generated a massive thunder and light. Hence the news of such a thunderbolt in the Nagaon locality could have preceded the actual happening.”
It insisted, “There was no major burns on the site and none in the locality admitted that they heard such a massive sound of thundering during the last few days.”

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