Lightning strike kills six, including five children, sheltering in truck

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lightning
Two of the six fatalities in the lightning strike in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental, today. Among the victims were five children, four of them siblings. Photo courtesy of Sipalay City Police Station

Six people, including five children, were killed when lightning struck a truck they were sheltering in during a downpour in Sipalay City.

Police said 17 others were injured by the lightning strike at about 1.30pm today (Wednesday, April 17).

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Four of the victims were siblings. They have been identified as Charlyn Seminion, aged 12, Ardemiel, 10, May-Ann, nine and Rose Ann, five. Also killed were Mery Tejoc, 35; and Mariel Montesino, 12.

Chief Inspector Nazer Canja of Sipilay police said that after it started raining 23 farm workers took shelter in a truck that was parked beside a tree. The adults had been harvesting sugarcane with the assistance of their children.

The six victims were declared dead upon arrival at hospital. Nine others were taken to Merceditas J Montilla District Hospital in Sipalay City for treatment.

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The other victims were rushed to the Lorenzo D Zayco District Hospital in Kabankalan City, while a woman who was seriously wounded was transferred to a hospital in Bacolod City.

The city government of Sipalay has extended assistance to the victims, Cf. Insp. Canja said.

It is not clear exactly how the sugarcane workers and their children had taken shelter in the truck, as remaining inside a vehicle is generally considered a place of safety during electrical storms.

According to science website howstuffworks, this is because lighting travels around the metal surface of the vehicle before going to ground. This means the vehicle acts like a protective Faraday cage. The website debunks the theory that it is rubber tyres that make vehicles safe places, pointing out that in strong electric fields rubber tyres actually become more conductive than insulating.

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