Lightning kills three people outside the White House and leaves another in critical condition | International

The strong storm that hit Washington this Thursday has claimed three fatalities due to a lightning strike very close to the White House, in the heart of the capital. James Mueller, 76, his wife, Donna Mueller, 75, both from Wisconsin, and an unidentified 29-year-old man have all died Friday, police said. Another woman struck by electric shock is in critical condition.

The fatalities were in Lafayette Square, the tree-lined square open to the public next to the White House compound, just across Pennsylvania Avenue, a pedestrian in that section. It is a place through which thousands of residents and workers of Washington and tourists from all over the world pass every day.

Members of the secret service were among the first to attend to the victims, who were near the center of the square. Emergency services were deployed to the area and the four victims were transferred alive, but in critical condition, to a hospital.

The civil protection services launched warnings for much of the afternoon due to the risk of floods, winds and electrical storms after a very hot day in the federal capital and the entire region. The rain was pouring down hard and lightning was frequent. The one that reached the victims fell shortly before 7:00 p.m. (local time, 01:00 a.m. in mainland Spain). The four of them had taken shelter from the rain under a tree. “Trees are not safe places. For anyone who goes to seek shelter under a tree, it is a very dangerous place, “said Vito Maggiolo, spokesman for the capital’s Fire Department, in an appearance on Thursday.

According to the US National Weather Service (NWS), lightning has killed an average of 23 people a year across the country in the past decade. July and August are the months with the most deaths from electric shocks from lightning. So far this year until last Tuesday, nine deaths were recorded. According to statistics from the National Weather Service (NWS), none of the more than 400 fatalities in the last 15 years had occurred in the District of Columbia.

Emergency services, after lightning struck near the White House, in an image released by the Washington Fire Service.
Emergency services, after lightning struck near the White House, in an image released by the Washington Fire Service.

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The odds of being struck by lightning are one in a million. according to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 90% of victims survive. Florida, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the states with the most deaths and injuries from lightning. Florida is considered the lightning capital of the country, with more than 2,000 injuries in the last 50 years, according to the CDC. Since 2006, aside from the District of Columbia, only five states (Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Washington) have not recorded any lightning fatalities.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement after learning of the first two deaths: “We are saddened by the tragic loss of life following a lightning strike in Lafayette Park. Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones and we pray for those who are still fighting for their lives,” she noted.

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