WARSAW (Reuters) – At least three people were killed and 22 injured during a thunderstorm in Poland’s Tatra Mountains on Thursday and another was killed in the West Tatras in Slovakia, mountain rescue services reported.
Lightning hit a group of tourists on Giewont, a 1,894-metre mountain, after a sunny morning turned stormy, according to witnesses quoted on private broadcaster TVN24.
“We have a very severe situation,” the head of TOPR, Poland’s voluntary mountain rescue organization, was quoted as saying by another broadcaster, state TVP Info.
Tourists climbing Giewont in Poland often aim to end their trip at the top, where a 15-metre iron cross was installed in 1901. The cross is said to attract lightning.
Other victims were hurt in different parts of the mountains, which spread over 57 kilometers in southern Poland. Four helicopters and a number of rescuers were still working helping victims, TVP Info said.
More than two dozen rescuers were already trying to save two cavers trapped in Poland’s Tatras, after a tunnel flooded and blocked their exit.
In the West Tatras on the Polish-Slovak border, a man was killed when lightning knocked him into a gorge, the Slovak Mountain Rescue Service said. His companion, a Czech woman, was injured. A Slovak man was hurt in a separate incident.
Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Pawel Florkiewicz; additional reporting by Alicja Ptak and Jan Lopatka; editing by Larry King