Fri, 12 Sep 2003

Lightning kills four and wounds three in Binjai

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

Four farmers were killed and three others injured when lightning struck their village of Limau Mukur in West Binjai subdistrict, Binjai regency, North Sumatra, residents and officials said on Thursday.

Also, a seven-year-old girl reportedly drowned in floodwaters triggered by heavy rain in Binjai, some 20 kilometers from the provincial capital Medan.

The lighting struck the seven victims at about 7 p.m. on Wednesday as they were leaving their fields, eyewitnesses said.

The farmers had taken shelter in a small hut to escape a rainstorm.

Minutes later lightning hit the hut, throwing the victims several meters from the site of the impact.

Arma Budi, who witnessed the incident, said one of the victims cried for help from residents who rushed to the scene.

"Four of the victims died at the scene from their injuries and we brought their bodies to their respective houses. We took the other three to Djoelham Binjai Hospital for treatment," he said.

The four deceased were identified as Supandi, 50, his wife Sutina, 48, Sumiyem, 55, and Ratna, 40. The three injured were identified as Susilawati, 24, Suprapto, 40, and Kurningsih, 13.

Susilawati, who suffered only a minor leg injury, was discharged from the hospital on Thursday evening.

Kurningsih and Suprapti are still being treated for serious injuries, said Rohani, a nurse in the hospital's emergency unit.

"Kurningsih is suffering ear trouble and her heart continues to beat rapidly, while Suprapto sustained chest and head injuries," she told The Jakarta Post.

West Binjai subdistrict head Hamdani said the local government would provide assistance to the families of the seven victims.

Meanwhile, the body of seven-year-old Adinda Vionika was found in the Bingei River on Wednesday night. She reportedly drowned in floodwaters in the area of Tangsi, Binjai.

The flooding was triggered by heavy rain across North Sumatra.

Also, at least nine houses, a school building and plots of farmland in Sidodadi village, Beringin subdistrict, Deliserdang regency, were damaged by strong winds.

No injuries or casualties were reported, however.

The Medan Meteorology and Geophysics Agency warned local residents of the possibility of more flooding this month, saying rainfall levels in September would be above normal.