Singapore

Bangladeshi worker struck by lightning but survives

Construction worker survives being struck outside shopping centre during storm

A man was struck by lightning during a raging storm on Tuesday afternoon.

The New Paper understands that the victim, Mr Mohd Nasu, is a 34-year-old construction worker from Bangladesh.

He is believed to have been injured outside Limbang Shopping Centre in Choa Chu Kang at about 4.30pm.

A shop assistant working there, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lee, 52, said she heard that Mr Nasu works in the Sungei Kadut factory area.

A cleaner who wanted to be known only as Maat, 56,said he saw men, who he believes are Mr Nasu's co-workers, carrying him into the shopping centre and placing him in front of Healthway Medical Clinic.

His right arm looked "burnt".

Madam Lee added: "One of my customers told me he was holding a metal pole. He said that he could still walk. He was struggling and shouting."

A staff member at the clinic, who did not want to be named, said the burn looked severe and Mr Nasu looked like he was in pain.

But he was alert and conscious when he was brought in and his blood pressure was normal, she added.

The clinic doctor who attended to him declined to comment.

Associate Professor Malcolm Mahadevan, who heads the National University Hospital's emergency medicine department, said it is not uncommon to survive a lightning strike.

He said: "About one in 10 people die from direct lightning strikes and the main cause of fatality is cardiac arrest."

Prof Malcolm added that for such victims, there would be evidence of burn marks.

"There can be a fern-like pattern seen on the skin surface that is temporary, and burns around the area where the electricity is transmitted to.

"There can also be damage to the skin area or nerves, caused either by electrical transfer or the associated explosion," he said.

Professor Liew Ah Choy from the National University of Singapore's electrical and computer engineering department said the area outside Limbang Shopping Centre has HDB blocks and other tall buildings, but this does not rule out the probability of being directly struck by lightning.

He said: "If the building is 50m high and you're 100m away, the building is not going to prevent you from getting struck."

But you can protect yourself during storms by staying away from open areas and checking the Meteorological Service Singapore website for thunderstorm activity over Singapore, he said.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force was alerted to the incident at 4.28pm. Mr Nasu was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

TNP understands his condition is stable and he was being reviewed for discharge on Wednesday afternoon.

LIGHTNING HOT SPOT

Singapore is known as one of the "lightning capitals of the world", say experts in a report in The Straits Times.

It has one of the highest rates of lightning activity, with an average of 171 thunderstorm days a year, according to the Meteorological Service Singapore website.

On average, Singapore has 0.35 lightning deaths per million people each year, compared to 0.2 in Britain and 0.6 in the US. Each square kilometre of land in Singapore can be struck by lightning up to 16 times each year.