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Lightning kills dozens in Bangladesh, but cell phones not to blame

A theory that cellphones contributed to the lightning strike deaths of more than 60 people during violent tropical storms across Bangladesh last week isn't true, a U.S. meteorologist said.

"This is a myth!," said John Jensenius, a lightning expert with the National Weather Service, in an e-mail to reporters. "Lightning is not attracted to metal objects or cell phones."

Lightning strikes taller objects, Jensenius said in an online release.

"People are struck because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "The wrong place is anywhere outside. The wrong time is anytime a thunderstorm is nearby."

Most of the 64 lightning deaths late last week were in rural Bangladesh, where farmers are busy with the current harvesting season, leading Bengali-language newspapers Prothom Alo and Samakal told the AP. The reports of casualties could not be verified independently, the wire service reported, with lightning deaths not usually monitored by government agencies.