CATARMAN, Northern Samar – Two siblings have died after they were struck by lightning in the rice fields at Sitio Carugyao, Barangay Osmeña in Palapag town this province.
Police Major Joseph Quilitano, Palapag chief of police, identified the victims as Arnel Laoreno Jr,21, Grade 12 student, and his younger sister Airene, 18, a Grade 10 student both residents of Brgy. Laniwan, Palapag.
Based on police reports, at around 10am last May 30,the siblings were tilling their farm along with their father, Arnel Sr., when a heavy downpour occurred prompting the three to take shelter in a nearby nipa hut.
They barely reached the hut when a lightning struck, hitting both Arnel and Airene who died instantly. Their father, though slightly injured, was in a state of shock after the incident Quilitano said.
Village residents assisted in transporting the victims to the Palapag poblacion where municipal health officer Delia Chy conducted a post mortem examination on the cadavers.
The remains of the victims were brought at their residence in Laniwan.
Dr. Chy told Leyte Samar Daily Express in a mobile interview that both victims suffered second degree burns from the head to their anterior chests that caused their instant death. Their clothes were burned and torn.
Catarman Pagasa manager Feleon Corona said that structures like a solitary nipa hut or a tree are commonly hit when lightning strikes in rice field areas.
“Thunderstorms occur most frequently during May; kasagsagan ng init dito sa ating lugar. During thunderstorms when you notice that a thunder and a lightning strike,ibig sabihin niyan yung clouds na pinanggalingan ng lightning is overhead or near your place. And it will hit at the highest object in your area,” he said.
Corona noted that in rice fields usually the highest object is a nipa hut, a coconut tree or a person standing.
“So to avoid being hit don’t shelter in a solitary hut. Go to areas where there are several houses. If you have nowhere to go better just duck in a place where you are not the highest object,” he said.
He also advised not to lie on the ground as the place may be wet or moist. (And) when the lightning hits a tree near you malaki ang posibilidad na makuryente ka din,” Corona said.
Corona said that their agency always include tips on how to avoid being hit by a lightning during Disaster Risk Reduction and Management seminars.
“Disasters from lightning is often disregarded kasi isa o dalawa lang naman an natatamaan. Pero paano kung ikaw o ang pamilya mo ang tamaan?” the official said.