Lightning kills one, hurts dozens in Europe

A thunderstorm with hailstones rained on Chemnitz, Germany, on Saturday. Storm Elvira had hit western Germany last Friday, flooding roads in some areas.
A thunderstorm with hailstones rained on Chemnitz, Germany, on Saturday. Storm Elvira had hit western Germany last Friday, flooding roads in some areas.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

PARIS • One man was killed and several people, including children, were injured as lightning strikes hit parts of Europe on Saturday, including a park in Paris and a football pitch in Germany.

In southern Poland, a man in his 40s was killed when he was struck by lightning as he descended the Babia Gora mountain, local media said. Three others were injured by lightning in the region, while a 61-year-old man drowned in floodwaters, according to TVN24 television and PAP news agency.

In Germany, more than 30 people were taken to hospital in the western village of Hoppstaedten when lightning struck the pitch at the end of a children's football match.

Most of those affected were children, who were taken to hospital as a precaution and found to be unharmed. But three adults were seriously hurt, including the referee, 45, who was hit directly and had to be resuscitated before being rushed to hospital by helicopter.

Witnesses to the German lightning strike said it happened without warning. "There was no rain and the sky wasn't dark," a police spokesman told DPA.

Storm Elvira had already hit western Germany last Friday, bringing torrential rain and hail and flooding roads in some areas.

In Paris, 11 people, eight of them children, were injured when lightning struck as they were celebrating a birthday party in Parc Monceau in the city's north-west.

Professor Pierre Carli, director of Necker hospital in Paris, said later that only one child was in a very serious condition and had required resuscitation. All the children at the party were aged between seven and eight years old.

Paris fire service spokesman Eric Moulin said the group had rushed under a tree to shelter when it began to rain. "It was while they were heading for shelter, when they were still near a tree, that lightning struck."

Emergency services went to the scene, with 29 fire engines mobilised. The injured were taken to hospital. Local official Vincent Baladi, speaking to iTele television, said the injuries included burns.

While lightning usually strikes individual people, it is possible for whole groups to be struck at once. Mr Michel Daloz of weather agency Meteo-France said that between 100 and 200 people are struck by lightning every year in France, killing between 10 and 20 people. He stressed that people should never head under trees during storms - as the group did in the Parisian park - as they often attract lightning.

Storm alerts had been issued for several regions across southern France on Saturday, warning of the possibility of "violent" weather - but Paris, to the north, was not on the list.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'Lightning kills one, hurts dozens in Europe'. Print Edition | Subscribe