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170 pigs struck by lightning in western Taiwan

40 pigs killed, 130 injured by lightning in Changhua County

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Hogs killed by lightning strike. (Lin Chia-chih photo)

Hogs killed by lightning strike. (Lin Chia-chih photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A lightning strike killed 40 pigs and injured 130 at a hog farm in western Taiwan early Wednesday morning (May 11).

During a thunderstorm that hit Changhua County’s Fangyuan Township early that morning, a bolt of lightning struck an array of solar panels on the roof of the farm. A lightning rod was apparently not properly grounded, and 170 hogs out of a total of 300 were electrocuted, killing 40 instantly and badly wounding 130 more, leading to up to NT$6 million (US$200,000) in losses, reported the Liberty Times.

The owner of the farm, Lin Chia-chih (林家至), was cited by the news agency as saying that when he arrived at the scene at 5 a.m., the animals were clearly distressed. After the rain had stopped, he counted more than 40 that had died and had electrical burn marks on their bodies.

The 130 injured animals had fainted and were so weak that they could not even drink water, he said. Lin plans to take some of the pigs to National Chiayi University to check whether they died from a heart attack and will sell the rest to the meat market.

170 pigs struck by lightning in western Taiwan
Hogs killed by lightning strike. (Lin Chia-chih photo)

Lin had leased the roof of the farm to Chailease Energy to operate solar panels. Although the firm had installed a lightning rod, a lightning strike in November of last year killed 40 pigs, a loss of NT$1.2 million.

Lin alleged that since the previous incident, Chailease has had a very negative attitude and has not responded to requests for compensation. With the assistance of Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Hsiu-pao (陳秀寶), Lin hired a third-party firm to conduct an investigation on May 4.

On that day, the firm found a major defect that kept the lightning rod from being properly grounded. However, Lin claims that Chailease failed to make the necessary repairs, transforming the pig farm into an "electric execution ground."

Lin said that because Chailease was unwilling to actively address this shortcoming, the pigs are now dead and there is no guarantee that a person will not be fatally electrocuted next time. He warned farmers who rent out their roofs for solar power to pay close attention to whether the lightning rod is functioning properly.

Chailease said that it is still investigating the situation and will provide a response through its public relations department.