At least 13 Muslim worshippers were killed and 15 hurt when lightning struck a mosque in a remote village in northeast Bangladesh as they held special Ramadan prayers, police said on Saturday.
The imam was among those instantly killed when a lightning bolt hit the tin-and-thatch building at Saraswatipur village, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the capital Dhaka, late on Friday.
The lightning appeared to “electrify” the mosque after hitting a rooftop microphone being run on power from a car battery, local council member Abul Kalam told AFP by telephone.
About 35 people from the village in the lake district of Sunamganj were holding prayers known as taraweeh — offered during the holy fasting month of Ramadan — at the time, police chief Bayes Alam said.
“All 13, including the imam, died on the spot. The bodies and faces of some of the victims were burnt,” Alam told AFP, adding six of the injured were hospitalised.
Locals had turned the flimsy structure into a mosque because access to the village’s more substantial concrete-roofed mosque had been made difficult due to recent heavy rains that have swollen the Saraswati river.
Villagers rushed to help after hearing cries, Kalam said.
“It was a terrible scene. Dozens were lying on the floor — some dead, others writhing in pain,” he said, adding most of the victims were young men in their 20s and 3Os.
“We took the injured in three boats and headed to hospital in Dharmapasa”, the closest big town, he said. “But it took hours to get there,” he added.