Paris light­ning strike hits 11

Sud­den storm hits kids’ birth­day party

SundayXtra - - WORLD - By Raphael Satter

PARIS — Eight chil­dren and three adults were struck by light­ning Satur­day in a Paris park af­ter a sud­den spring storm sent a bolt crash­ing down upon a chil­dren’s birth­day party, a spokesman for Paris’ fire ser­vice said. He cred­ited an off-duty fire­fighter with play­ing a crit­i­cal role in get­ting im­me­di­ate med­i­cal help to the vic­tims, but one child re­mains in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

An­other group of peo­ple at a chil­dren’s soc­cer match in western Ger­many was also hit by light­ning Satur­day af­ter­noon, leav­ing three adults se­ri­ously in­jured.

The birth­day group had sought shel­ter un­der a tree at Park Mon­ceau, a north­west Paris park pop­u­lar with well-to-do fam­i­lies when a light­ning bolt touched down, ac­cord­ing to Paris fire ser­vice spokesman Eric Moulin. He put the chil­dren’s ages at around nine.

Moulin said Cmdr. Pascal Gremil­let, an off-duty fire­fighter, was vis­it­ing a mu­seum nearby when he no­ticed the com­mo­tion and dis­cov­ered nine of the 11 vic­tims ly­ing un­con­scious. He im­me­di­ately went to work.

“He saw who was the most se­ri­ously in­jured. He did a quick triage of the vic­tims. He did first aid. He alerted the res­cue ser­vices,” Moulin told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “With­out his ac­tions, it would have been much worse.”

Gremil­let told jour­nal­ists one child’s heart had stopped beat­ing when he ar­rived.

“I did first aid (and) a heart mas­sage,” he said. The other chil­dren “were in shock.”

Dr. Pierre Carli, an emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices of­fi­cial, later told jour­nal­ists for one of the chil­dren, “the prog­no­sis is prob­a­bly more se­ri­ous, and he is now hos­pi­tal­ized on life-sup­port.”

For the seven other chil­dren, the news was “rather good,” Carli said. Their in­juries were not con­sid­ered life-threat­en­ing.

He said that the con­di­tion of three of the more se­ri­ously in­jured chil­dren was im­prov­ing, All seven of the chil­dren were placed un­der ob­ser­va­tion, Carli said. He iden­ti­fied the in­jured adults as two men and a woman who is the mother of some of the chil­dren.

Footage shot by the fire ser­vice showed a dra­matic scene at a nearby bank that was com­man­deered as a makeshift treat­ment cen­tre, with chil­dren wrapped in gold ther­mal blan­kets sit­ting and ly­ing on the build­ing’s tiled floor as fire­fight­ers ad­min­is­tered first aid be­fore evac­u­at­ing the vic­tims to area hos­pi­tals. Two small feet, smudged with what looked like soot, stuck out from un­der­neath one of the blan­kets.

An As­so­ci­ated Press re­porter at the scene saw an aban­doned pair of chil­dren’s glasses and jacket near the tree. White-and-red tape was strung around the area, and whistle­blow­ing war­dens ush­ered week­end jog­gers out of the park, which was swiftly closed.

One Paris res­i­dent who lives near the park and saw the light­ning crash down said it was rare to see such a wild storm hit­ting the French cap­i­tal. “It was dra­matic,” said JeanLouis Lau­rens.

Storm warn­ings were in ef­fect across parts of France Satur­day, and the weather had vi­o­lent con­se­quences else­where in Europe.

More than 30 peo­ple were taken to the hospi­tal af­ter light­ing struck Satur­day at the end of a chil­dren’s soc­cer match in western Ger­many, po­lice said.

Three adults were se­ri­ously in­jured in the in­ci­dent in the town of Hopp­staedten, po­lice said — in­clud­ing the 45-year- old ref­eree, who suf­fered a car­diac ar­rest af­ter be­ing hit di­rectly by light­ning and had to be re­vived by on­look­ers and a doc­tor.

All 29 of the chil­dren, ages nine to 11, also were taken to nearby hos­pi­tals, po­lice said in a state­ment. How­ever, it stressed it was “a purely pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure.” A spec­ta­tor also was taken to the hospi­tal as a pre­cau­tion.

FRANCOIS MORI / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A fire truck at the en­trance to Park Mon­ceau in Paris af­ter a light­ning strike.

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