World

Lightning Strike on Church Kills 16 and Injures Hundreds More

A lightning strike killed 16 people and injured hundreds more in a church in Rwanda, Africa, an official said Sunday.

Most of the victims were killed instantly when lightning struck the Seventh-Day Adventist church in the southern district of Nyaruguru, local mayor Habitegeko Francois told the AFP news agency.

GettyImages-915711284 (File picture) A photo taken on January 25, 2018, shows a lightning before sunrise in the Mara Triangle, the north-western part of Masai Mara national reserve managed by non-profit organization Mara Conservancy, in southern Kenya. Getty Images

Francois said that two people subsequently died of their injuries and 140 people were taken to hospitals and health centers to be treated.

The lightning struck the church in a mountainous region near the border with Burundi at around midday on Saturday, said the official. 

"Doctors say that only three [more churchgoers] are in critical condition but they are getting better," Mr Francois told AFP.

The Seventh-Day Adventists are a Protestant denomination, which observes Saturday as the Sabbath. It emerged in the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century, and has millions of adherents in countries across the world. 

Francois said that one person was killed in a separate incident Friday. Lightning struck a group of 18 students in the same area, with three still hospitalized and the others allowed to return home. 

The church incident comes after Rwandan regulators closed 700 churches for failing to comply with building regulations. The BBC reported that some of the shuttered churched did not have lightning conductors—devices intended to protect buildings from lightning strikes.

Last week, Rwandan police arrested six pastors for defying church closures.