Lightning strike in Poland, heavy thunderstorm blamed for several deaths, injuries in Tatra Mountains
The TOPR rescue service said rescuers were dispatched to Giewont peak where the group of tourists, including children, had been struck by lightning.
The spokeswoman for Krakow’s provincial governor, Joanna Pazdzio, told The Associated Press at least three people, including a child, were killed in the lightning strike. Pazdzio told the AP she was told about the deaths by the leaders of the rescue operation that was taking place Thursday afternoon in the Tatras.
“Several people were hit by lightning [in] nearby Giewont summit. The situation is critical,” Jan Krzysztof, the chief of the Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue, told Poland’s TVN24 news.
Rescuers said that some 20 people could have been affected when lighting struck the Giewont, a popular trekking destination, and other Tatra locations.
“Several people died on various locations,” Krzysztof told TVN24.
The spokeswoman for Krakow’s provincial governor, Joanna Pazdzio, told The Associated Press at least three people, including a child, were killed in the lightning strike.
Kinga Czerwinska, of the Airborne Ambulance Service, said four helicopters have been dispatched to help. They were alerted shortly after 2 p.m.
Footage on TVN24 showed TOPR rescuers racing to a helicopter to get to the peak, in wet, rainy and foggy weather.
Lightning typically strikes tall objects such as trees and skyscrapers because their tops are closer to the base of the storm cloud, according to The National Severe Storms Laboratory.
“However, this does not always mean tall objects will be struck. It all depends on where the charges accumulate,” according to the agency. “Lightning can strike the ground in an open field even if the tree line is close by.
Lightning, known as a “bolt from the blue,” can also strike from as far away as 25 miles from a thunderstorm cloud, even when there appear to be clear skies, according to the NSSL.
“They can be especially dangerous because they appear to come from clear blue sky,” the agency states.
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