Dozens Struck By Lightning, Including Children, As Storms Cross Europe


Up to a dozen children were struck by lightning in a Paris park today, and 35 were injured after lighting struck a German football pitch as spring storms and severe rain lashed the continent today.

One Paris resident says it was a wild spring storm that sent lightning bolts crashing down onto a Paris park, striking 11 people at a child’s birthday party.

Jean-Louis Laurens, who lives near the city’s Park Monceau, says Saturday that it’s rather rare to see such a storm hitting the French capital like that. He says “it was dramatic.”

Paris fire service spokesman Eric Moulin says the victims include eight children. He says six of those hit are seriously injured, including four children and two adults — and four of them are in life-threatening condition. He says five other people have been slightly injured by the lightning, including four children.

A Paris fire service spokesman says an off-duty fireman ran immediately to the scene after a lightning strike disrupted a child’s birthday party in a park.

Eric Moulin says the fireman saw nine of the 11 victims prone on the ground under a tree at Park Monceau, a popular weekend hangout for well-to-do families in Paris. He said the fireman administered first aid, including heart massages, and helped direct rescuers to the scene.

Moulin says “without his actions, it would have been much worse.”

Moulin says six of those struck by lightning are seriously injured, including four children and two adults — and four of them are in life-threatening condition. He says a further five people are slightly injured, including four children and another adult.

He gave the children’s ages as around 9 years old.

Lightning struck a football pitch in western Germany on Saturday, injuring 35 people, three of them seriously, news agency DPA reported.

The accident — which came as 11 people were hurt in a similar freak strike at a birthday party in a Parisian park — happened at the end of a children’s football match in Hoppstaedten, DPA said, citing police.

The referee of the match was hit directly by the strike and was rushed to hospital. Two other adults also suffered serious injuries.

Thirty children aged between nine and 11 were lightly injured and were taken to hospital for tests, along with two more adults.

“According to witnesses, there was no rain and the sky wasn’t dark” when the lightning struck, a police spokesman told DPA.

Weather authorities had issued a storm alert for western and southern Germany on Saturday, warning that the bad weather was due to last the weekend.

Storm Elvira had already hit western Germany on Friday, bringing torrential rain and hail and flooding roads in some areas such as the town of Wiesbaden.

In Rhineland-Palatinate, the state where Hoppstaedten is located, bad weather caused a train to derail but there were no injuries.

AP and AFP contributed to this story