A bizarre fate befell a Rwandan church after lightning struck the building while its congregation was worshiping inside killing 16 churchgoers and injuring dozens more. The lighting struck when the preacher stepped to the pulpit after a visiting choir had just performed.
The Gihemvu Seventh-day Adventist Church goers celebrate the Sabbath on Saturdays and hundreds were gathered inside the church at the time of the lightning strike. If lighting can strike buildings and kill those inside, why doesn't it happen more?
One relatively inexpensive defense against lighting which the church lacked is a lightning rod. According to Jacqueline Benhirwe, the district's disaster management officer, the church was "too poor" to afford a lighting rod which could have safely diverted the lethal strike.
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A church elder named Emmanuel Ruremesha said, "Suddenly, there was a big bang. We all fell down for minutes." Most of the victims died instantly when the lightning struck the church but two people succumbed to their injuries later and 140 required medical attention from local hospitals.
A local resident named Marceline Mukamana said she heard the lightning strike followed by a woman crying for help and when she entered the church she found everyone lying on the ground. "It was very terrifying to see," Mukamana said. "I started moving back with my legs shaking."
The town's mayor Habitegeko Francois said, "Doctors say that only three (more churchgoers) are in critical condition but they are getting better." The fatal lighting strike occurred less than two weeks after the closure of over 700 Rwandan churches that failed to comply with building regulations.
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