Four seriously injured in lightning strike near White House

Four people are in critical condition after being hit by one near the White House in Washington late Thursday afternoon local time. The episode took place just before 7 pm in Lafayette Square, in northwest Washington DC, when a storm hit the US capital area.

A spokesperson for the Fire Department and Ambulance Service told local radio station WTOP that emergency teams had transported two men and two women to hospitals in the area. They suffered life-threatening injuries, firefighters who responded to the incident said.

Police in the US capital did not release the identities of the victims. A camera from the area showed the park closed to the public after the lightning struck, with emergency vehicles parked on Pennsylvania Avenue, outside the North fence of the White House, the seat of the United States government.

The four adults were found just before 7pm. in the center of the park, in a grove about 30 meters southeast of the Andrew Jackson statue, fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo told a news conference Thursday night. The Secret Service, which secures the White House perimeter, and the US Park Police provided first aid to the victims, which firefighters credited with the victims’ ability to survive initially.

It was not immediately clear why the victims were in the park at the time of the discharge, Maggiolo said. Firefighters said police will investigate the incident. “Trees are not safe places,” Maggiolo said. “Anyone who is going to seek shelter under a tree is in a very dangerous place to be,” he said.

Severe storms hit the Washington region, which is under a warning of very intense heat and a temperature sensation of over 40ºC. The severe storm warnings and the heat warning expired in the early evening as the storms began to weaken. Heavy rains, along with thunder and lightning, battered parts of the region.

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