A 37-year-old man and his five-year-old son have been critically injured after being struck by lightning outside a school in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. The man's seven-year-old daughter was also hurt in the incident at Killowen Primary School in County Antrim although her injuries are not believed to be severe.
The school principal, Fiona Douglas, was quoted by the Belfast Telegraph as saying: "I can confirm that a parent and two children were injured outside the school's main gate this afternoon. School staff and parents attended to the injured family until the arrival of the emergency services. Following this all other pupils, accompanied by staff, went safely to nearby Laurel Hill Community College where they were collected by parents. The thoughts of the entire school community are with the family at this time."
Some witnesses said the man was on his mobile phone when the lightning struck at around 2pm on Tuesday 7 June.
Although a cause has not been confirmed, the British Medical Journal had previously warned that the metal in mobiles can act as a conductor during a thunderstorm.
If the victim is holding the mobile to an ear the damage can be particularly severe as electricity can pass directly into the brain.
In a statement following the incident the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said: "NIAS was called to the scene, just before 2pm today, following reports that an adult male had been struck by a bolt of lightning. A Rapid Response Paramedic was on scene in seven minutes to find that two children had also been struck. Three A&E crews and a further two RRV Paramedics were sent to the scene.
"The adult was taken to the nearby Lagan Valley Hospital and the two children were taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. All three are being treated for the injuries sustained and they remain in our thoughts."
The NIAS reminded anyone out in the open during a thunderstorm to avoid water and tall trees and to sit down with as little touching the ground as possible. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning meaning heavy rain and thunderstorms are possible for much of the UK and Ireland.
There have been a number of lightning-related incidents across Europe recently. On 5 June a music festival in Germany had to be abandoned after 80 people were struck by lightning. On 28 May, 10 children were injured by lightning in a Paris park.