June 26 (UPI) -- More than 100 people were killed by lightning strikes in two Indian states as the country's vital monsoon season arrived earlier than expected.
Eighty-three people were killed Thursday in the northeastern state of Bihar and 24 others died during thunderstorms in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, local officials reported.
More than 20 districts in Bihar reported fatalities, with Gopalganj in the northern part of the state registering the highest total with 13 deaths, according to state disaster management officials.
They said families of the victims will be compensated with $5,300.
Officials said many of the victims were farmers at work in their fields, hurrying to finish planting their crops before the arrival of the Southwest Monsoon season, which generally runs from June to September.
The yearly storms, which are crucial to India's agricultural economy, arrived in northern parts of the country two weeks early this year, leaving farmers there exposed to lightning strikes in open fields.
The monsoon rains usually begin in India's southwest corner June 1 and take 45 days to advance across the country. This year, however, they had covered the entire nation by early Friday, the India Meteorological Department said.