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Boy, 14, in serious condition after lighting strike at southern Israel beach

Five members of one family taken to hospital after being hit by lighting during the Sukkot holiday.

Illustrative: Lightning illuminates the sky over the Shomron Mountains in the West Bank on Nov. 4, 2018. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.
Illustrative: Lightning illuminates the sky over the Shomron Mountains in the West Bank on Nov. 4, 2018. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.

A 14-year-old boy who was struck by lighting at Zikim Beach in southern Israel on Tuesday together with four other family members remained in serious condition at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center on Wednesday. The other victims’ condition has improved, according to the hospital.

The boy’s sister-in-law, 22, is also listed as being in serious condition, though according to doctors her condition has been stabilized. The three other siblings, ages 13, 17 and 24, are currently listed in conditions ranging from moderate to light.

“Five people were injured and brought to the medical center,” said deputy hospital director Dr. Gili Givati according to Israel National News. “One of them, 14 years old, who was in critical condition, underwent prolonged resuscitation, which continued in the hospital. He is currently in a trauma room undergoing pediatric intensive care.”

The other seriously injured victim was in intensive care, said Givati. The three other victims suffered “minor injuries” and showed “signs of electrical tension,” as well as “entry and exit wounds” from the lightning strike, she added.

Medics at the scene of a lightning strike that injured five people near Ashkelon, Oct. 15, 2019. Credit: MDA.

Magen David Adom paramedic Keren Slobodnik said that when first responders arrived at the scene of the incident, two of the victims were without a pulse and not breathing. A third, she said, was “conscious but disoriented.”

“The MDA team that was nearby started working to resuscitate the two who were unconscious, not breathing, and without a pulse,” said Slobodnik. While paramedics were able to restore the heartbeat of one of the victims, resuscitation efforts on the other victim were less successful and had to be continued at the hospital, she said.

Eyewitness Guy Shlepkov, who also tried to help the victims, said the lighting strike was “quick and amazing.”

“There weren’t a lot of people on the beach. Suddenly, there was a really strong ‘boom.’ It’s really lucky there were a few people [here], and they called for help and started helping the injured. I ran to the lifeguard’s booth and asked them to get help urgently. A few people helped out with first aid. A woman who had been hit [by the lightning] was complaining she couldn’t move her legs,” said Shlepkov.

“I didn’t see what happened,” 17-year-old Elhanan Hazut, who was moderately hurt, told Channel 13. “Suddenly, I woke up and saw my kipah was burned.”

Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller characterized the incident as “serious and unusual.”

Thunderstorms, as well as sandstorms, were being reported throughout southern Israel on Tuesday, from Ashkelon to Beersheva.

According to National Geographic, approximately 10 percent of lightning strike victims are killed, while 70 percent suffer long-term injuries. Some 400 people in the United States survive being hit by lightning every year.

A version of this article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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