Two dead when struck by lightning near the White House

Two people died and many others were seriously injured when struck by lightning on Thursday night near the White House in Washington, local police confirmed to AFP on Friday.

“Two people were pronounced dead after being struck by lightning in Lafayette Square”a few meters from the White House fence, police said.

They are a couple from rural Wisconsin: James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, authorities said.

The other two victims remain “in critical condition”according to the police.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre offered condolences to the families of the deceased in a statement. “We pray for those who are still fighting for their lives,” she added.

Lightning struck Thursday in the public park that borders the US president’s residence minutes before 7:00 p.m. (23:00 GMT).

In the photos published by the fire department, dozens of rescue vehicles are seen in the tree-covered square in the middle of the storm.

The probability of being struck by lightning is one in a million, according to data from US health authorities.

The spokesman for the Washington fire department, Vito Maggiolo, insisted on the need to take shelter in a safe place when lightning strikes. “Trees are not safe places.”

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