Lightning strikes have caused serious injuries to several people, many of them children, at a park in Paris and a football match in Germany.
A birthday party in Parc Monceau in Paris was hit by lightning, injuring 11 people, eight of them children. Several are in a life-threatening condition.
They were struck after seeking shelter under a tree, police say.
Lightning also hit a children’s football match in Hoppstaedten, leaving several people injured.
Initial reports said 35 people had been injured – however, many were taken to hospital as a precaution.
Both incidents took place on Saturday afternoon.
Paris police said the children injured in Parc Monceau had an average age of nine.
An off-duty firefighter, Pascal Gremillot, happened to be nearby and was able to rapidly administer first aid and heart massages. Officials said the situation would have been much worse if he had not been there.
Six of those injured are in a serious condition.
Witnesses to the lightning strike at a football match in Hoppstaedten, south-west Germany, said there were no dark clouds and the sky was blue when lightning struck at the end of the match.
The referee was one of three adults at the match who suffered serious injuries, police in Kaiserslautern said. He took a direct lightning hit, suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital by helicopter.
Another man was also airlifted to hospital and a third was taken by ambulance. All three injured men are in their 40s, the police added.
According to German media reports, some of the child footballers, aged nine to 11, were taken to hospital as a precaution after electrocardiogram (ECG) investigations showed their heart function required further investigation.
Analysis, by Clive Mills-Hicks, Meteorologist, Met Office
The storms developed because a very warm and humid air mass covered mainland north-west Europe at the same time as the air higher up in the atmosphere was becoming colder, creating a very “unstable” atmosphere.
This instability manifested itself in the storms which developed extremely rapidly once the air had warmed up sufficiently.
Over much of the area, the temperature climbed to 25 Celsius, more than enough to trigger the storm clouds. Such storms produce intense rainfall, hail, and numerous lightning strikes and it is typical for them to be at their most widespread and intense in the early afternoon. They are not unusual over the continent during the summer, although today’s outbreaks were perhaps more widespread than normal.
Further storms are likely over Europe on Sunday: the areas expected to see the storms are southern and eastern Germany, the Czech Republic, and the western half of Poland.
In addition to the widespread nature of today’s storms, the fact that they came at a weekend, and during otherwise fine, warm weather, made it more likely that they would have an impact on people.
Torrential rain also halted play at the French Open as defending champion Serena Williams was about to start a match against Kristina Mladenovic.
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