Lighting struck and killed a man paying homage to his ancestors’ graves southeast of Bangkok yesterday.
Pisit Pornpatcharareungool and other relatives were paying respects to at clan tombstones in the Cheng Leng Thai-Chinese Cemetery in Chonburi’s Si Racha District at about noon when police said a bolt of lighting hit as they fled a freak storm.
Pisit, 30, was unconscious and in critical condition when rescue workers arrived. He was rushed to the nearby Samitivej Sriracha Hospital where he later died, according to Tienchai Neungchamnong of Sriracha police. Two others were injured.
Witnesses told police the family was praying and cleaning the grave site for the traditional Chinese holiday of Qingming – aka Tomb-Sweeping Day – when it started thundering, forcing them to abandon the ceremonies and find shelter.
Two of Pisit’s relatives also sustained minor injuries but did not require hospitalization.
Speaking Monday to Coconuts Bangkok, Lt. Col. Tienchai confirmed basic scientific fundamentals by dismissing media speculation the lightning was drawn by cell phones in their pockets.
A number of tabloids had floated the idea that the phones attracted electricity and contributed to the severity of the accident.
As of press time, Pisit’s body had been sent for an autopsy. Results are expected to be returned in about a month, Tienchai said.
While no ready data could be found on the frequency of lightning-related fatalities in Thailand, nine hospitals in 2016 reported 18 such incidents in 2016, according to The Nation. Half were fatal; 10 occurred in open fields.