Local authorities in Washington, DC, have reported that a lightning strike late on Thursday left two persons dead and two more critically injured. The incident scene was in close proximity to the White House.
James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, of Wisconsin, died from their injuries as a result of the lightning strike in Lafayette Park, which is situated just outside the White House complex, according to the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.
The two other people – a man and a woman – remain in critical condition, the police department said, without identifying them.
DC Fire and EMS had said that US Park Police and uniformed Secret Service agents, who are tasked with protecting the White House, had helped render aid to the four victims after the lightning strike.
A spokesperson said all four suffered “critical, life-threatening injuries” injuries, and were transported to area hospitals on Thursday night.
“We are saddened by the tragic loss of life after the lightning strike in Lafayette Park,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”
Washington endured thunderstorms on Thursday after a spike in temperatures this week.
The National Weather Service had warned that “record high temperatures are likely in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and the central High Plains”.
Scientists say that climate change is increasing the likelihood of lightning strikes across the United States.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser activated a heat emergency on Friday, opening shelters and cooling centres for residents to escape the heat.
“Remember: Stay hydrated, limit sun exposure, and check on seniors, neighbors and pets,” she wrote on Twitter.
DC Fire and EMS released a list of tips for residents to protect themselves from thunderstorms, which are also expected on Friday.
“If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Look for shelter inside a home, large building or a hard-topped vehicle right away,” it said.
“There is no place outside that is safe during a thunderstorm.” The advisory warned against sheltering under trees.
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SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES