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Two lifeguards monitored in hospital after lightning strikes beach

The lightning strike on Banna beach occurred shortly before 4pm.

TWO LIFEGUARDS WHO were taken to hospital after a lightning strike in Co Kerry did not suffer any wounds, a leader in Irish water safety has said.

The lightning strike on Banna beach occurred shortly before 4pm.

A yellow weather warning for Kerry and surrounding counties was issued by Met Eireann at 1:30pm yesterday, but the lifeguards were still attempting to clear people from the water when the strike happened.

Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO of Water Safety Ireland, told the PA News Agency yesterday that the lifeguards were fine but were being monitored in hospital.

“Thankfully both Lifeguards are fine, with no entry or exit wounds,” he said.

“The lightning strike happened on Banna beach in Kerry shortly before 4pm. The Lifeguards had observed flashes of lightning on the horizon and were in the process of clearing the water of people when a strike occurred on the beach, close to both Lifeguards.

“They did not suffer any wounds and were taken by ambulance to hospital where they are being monitored.

“The beach was closed and Banna Rescue, a local voluntary search and rescue unit which is one of the Community Rescue Boats of Ireland did a great job in continuing to clear the water and sand of visitors.

“All lifeguarded beaches in North Kerry were closed as a precaution.”

Video on social media showed flooding in streets across Co Kerry, with a Dunnes Stores in Tralee being evacuated following intense rainfall.

The University Hospital Kerry said it had been impacted by flooding and a number of areas had closed, with people being advised only to come to the hospital in case of emergency.

Sweeney advised against being in or near large bodies of water during the type of weather conditions expected in many areas of Ireland over the weekend and gave advice on how to tell how far a thunderstorm is.

“If you are in a thunderstorm, cancel any plans to go swimming and if you are swimming, get to shore as quickly as possible, as water conducts electricity, in much the same way as metal pipes and phone lines,” he said.

“Take shelter. The thunder starts as a shockwave from the lightning. The lightning itself can strike up to 10 miles from the centre of a storm.

“Count the seconds between seeing any lightning and hearing thunder. We see lightning first because light travels faster than sound. It takes approximately 5 seconds for the sound of thunder to travel a mile.

“So, when you count the number of seconds between seeing a crack of lightning and hearing the thunder, divide that number by 5 and that is how many miles away the lightning was when it struck. Keep in mind that you should be in a safe place while counting.”

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