Guwahati: The tragic killing of 18 wild Asiatic elephants due to electrocution by lightening within seconds can be justified only with an absurd argument, asserted the All Assam Engineer’s Association (AAEA), demanding a high-level scientific investigation into the Nagaon incident that took place reportedly on the night of May 12. The forum of engineering graduates termed it as a matter of concern (caveat) for the wildlife and entire human race if such a massive thunderbolt hit the planet.
As the state government in Dispur, the forest minister and the preliminary findings of a probe committee, claimed that it might be a thunderbolt that killed all 18 bulky animals within seconds, the debate needs to focus on the volume of energy needed to strike on the jumbos at a time. If for arguments it is assumed that the animals were close to each other during the incident, they needed at least 100 square-meter area (impact zone) to accommodate themselves. Nevertheless, they were found scattered, the AAEA statement pointed out.
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.
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 the functioning of organs like the heart, lungs and 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. 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,” claimed AAEA president Er Kailash Sarma, working president Er Nava J Thakuria and secretary Er Inamul Hye, adding that 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.