17-year-old 'critical' after being struck by lightning

Boy suffers cardiac arrest after taking cover from storm while playing cricket
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The Independent Online

A teenager was in a critical condition in hospital last night after he and five friends were struck by lightning while sheltering from storms in a park in Birmingham on Saturday. The victim, named locally as 17-year-old Mohammed Junaid Hussain, suffered a cardiac arrest. The other five were treated in hospital for injuries "consistent with electric shock". Three are said to be still under observation.

Junaid remains in a critical but stable condition at Selly Oak Hospital with burns down the left side of his body. Akhmed Hussain, 35, who was sheltering from the storm in his car overlooking the park, said: "As the rain started coming down I saw people scarper, and there was a group of lads who had hidden under a tree. After that, I saw a flash of light and people just suddenly dropped; they just collapsed. As soon as it happened I thought, 'That's it; they're done for,' because lightning strikes like that are usually fatal. One of the boys who fell got up straight away, another got up about 30 seconds later, and others just didn't get up. The lad who got up first was running around in a panic. He was stopping passing cars, trying to get help."

The cardiac arrest victim's uncle, Abid Hussain, 48, said last night: "Everyone in the family was shocked when they heard, and his parents have been visiting him in hospital all day. Junaid is always in the park playing cricket or football; it's when he's at his happiest. He was still unconscious this afternoon and the hospital have said they can't say much about his condition."

A West Midlands Ambulance spokesman said: "Crews found a teenage boy receiving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation from a member of the public. The 17-year-old suffered serious burns after being struck by lightning and was in cardiac arrest. A second teenage boy suffered convulsions consistent with an electric shock. Crews treated the lad at the scene before he was taken to hospital. Four other teenage boys suffered minor injuries and were assessed on the scene."

The odds of being struck by lightning are suggested to be about 500,000 to one. Last year, 46 people in Britain were treated after being hit by lightning, each spending an average of six days in hospital. Being caught in a storm is the most likely scenario in which people are struck, but lightning has struck people up to 10 miles from adverse weather. Talking on the telephone is the leading cause of lightning injuries inside the home; outside, standing under a tree is the most dangerous place to take shelter.

Two weeks ago, two 14-year-old sweethearts were struck by lightning in Southend, Essex. Sophie Frost and Mason Billington were under a tree in a storm, and were apparently saved because they were holding hands when they were hit.

They were at some playing fields when a bolt hit Sophie's iPod, sending electricity coursing through her chest, stomach and leg. Mason regained consciousness first, carrying Sophie to safety and flagging down a car, despite having trouble seeing because of his injuries. She was treated for burns to her neck, chest and leg; Mason had eye damage and minor burns.

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