21 October 2014
At least 50 police recruits escaped death by a whisker after a tent they were using during training at Lowdale Training Centre in Shamva was struck by a bolt of lightning, injuring three of them last Thursday.
While official figures indicated that there were 50 recruits and three were injured, impeccable police sources at Morris Depot said there were 60 recruits and 15 of them were injured, eight seriously. The sources said of the eight seriously injured, six were still admitted at Morris Depot Camp Clinic by yesterday, while two were at Parirenyatwa Hospital. The sources said the bolt of lightning struck while the recruits were on a shooting training session.
But police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi yesterday said all the affected recruits had since resumed training. "Three recruits sustained minor injuries and were taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital for further management," he said. "They were admitted for two days and later discharged."
The incident involving recruits from Morris Depot occurred between 6pm and 7pm, while the 15 injured were all females. The number of instructors who were accompanying the recruits could not be established, but seven of the recruits were examined and discharged after their degree of injuries was said to be minor. Although details were still sketchy by yesterday, police sources said the recruits were conducting a shooting exercise at the farm as part of their training. They were struck by lightning following rains that were experienced in some of parts of the country last Thursday.
The Herald understands that recruits usually undergo one-week training sessions at the farm, conducting shooting exercises with FN rifles and other weapons as part of their training. This was the first incident in which recruits and members of the police are struck by lightning during training in the country.
Several people have been killed, while others were injured after being struck by lightning in recent months and years. In February this year, several people were left homeless after five homesteads were struck by lightning in Muzarabani. Last year, 38 people were struck by lightning across the country during the rainy season.
Lightning is described by experts as a powerful sudden flow of electricity (an electrostatic discharge) accompanied by thunder that occurs during a storm. The discharge will travel between the electrically charged regions within a thundercloud, or between a cloud and another cloud, or between a cloud and the ground. The charged regions within the atmosphere temporarily equalise themselves through a lightning flash, commonly referred to as a strike if it hits an object on the ground. There are three primary types of lightning: from a cloud to itself (intra-cloud or IC); from one cloud to another cloud (CC) and between a cloud and the ground (CG). Although lightning is always accompanied by the sound of thunder, distant lightning may be seen, but may be too far away for the thunder to be heard.