Two dead and two in critical condition after lightning strike near White House

Two people have died and two remain in critical condition after a lightning strike near the White House in downtown Washington, DC

Four people were hospitalised with life-threatening injuries on Thursday evening after they were hit by a lightning strike near Lafayette Square.

Fire officials said the two men and two women were found just before 7pm in the centre of the park. Fire department spokesman Vito Maggiolo said they were found in a grove of trees about 100ft southeast of the statue of Andrew Jackson.

Mr Maggiola said that they are still investigating why the four people were in the park at that time.

“Trees are not safe places,” Mr Maggiolo said. “Anybody that goes to seek shelter under a tree, that’s a very dangerous place to be.”

Mr Maggiolo said officials from the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service and the Park Police were on the scene immediately to help.

A severe thunderstorm hit the DC region around 7pm on Thursday.

The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for much of the Beltway area between 6.30pm and 7.15pm.

On average, lightning kills 23 people in the United States in a year, and this year alone, lightning has caused nine fatalities.

The odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are less than “one in a million”, according to The New York Times. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, says that nearly 90 per cent of all people struck by lightning survive.

The victims initially received help from the Secret Service and the US Park Police, leading to the initial survival of the individuals, fire officials said, according to The Washington Post.

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