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Czech national among five killed by lightning in Tatra mountains; body of missing caver found

Krakow, Poland – At least five people were killed and over 100 injured in a severe thunderstorm in the Tatra Mountains on the Slovak-Polish border. Four people, including a child, died on the Polish side of the mountain range, while a  fifth person, a Czech national, according to Radio Praha, was killed on the Slovak side.

Impossible to predict

“Nobody expected such a sudden storm to break out and from our human point of view it was something which was impossible to predict,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at an emergency meeting in the region.

According to the BBC, the worst incident occurred at the top of the 1,894m Giewont mountain, where a 15m metal cross is sited. A lightning bolt is thought to have struck the structure at a time when a large number of hikers were at the summit.

“We heard that after thelightning struck, people fell. The current then continued along the chains securing the ascent, striking everyone along the way. It looked bad,” said the head of the Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue group Jan Krzysztof.

The thunderstorm is believed to have descended all of a sudden after a sunny morning.

Body found in Tatra mountains

Local media is also reporting that Polish rescuers have found the body of one of  the two missing cavers who became trapped Saturday while exploring uncharted parts of the Wielka Sniezna cave in the Tatra mountains.

“The body of one of the spelunkers we’ve been searching for since Saturday has been found,” mountain rescue service official Krzysztof Dlugopolski told the news portal Onet, saying he will provide more information during the day.

On Tuesday, Jan Krzysztof said that some food, two climbing harnesses and a malfunctioning drill have been found at an entrance to a very narrow passage in the cave, the deepest and the longest in Poland. Mine experts, firefighters and mountain rescuers from neighboring Slovakia have also been involved in the search while divers from around Europe have been offering to help.

The Wielka Sniezna cave can be descended to a depth of 824 metres.

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