Nearly 40 children were injured in separate lightning strikes Saturday afternoon in Europe — one at a French park and another at a German soccer stadium. The gravest of the injuries was in France, where one child is on life support, a doctor said.
An off-duty firefighter was hailed as a hero for quickly getting medical attention to victims in the first incident, which happened when skies suddenly opened over a child's birthday party in a park in Paris.
A Paris fire service spokesman told The Associated Press that 11 people, including eight children, were hit.
The victims sought shelter under a tree at Parc Monceau, a public park in Paris' ritzy eighth arrondissement.
Six were seriously injured, including four children and two adults. Emergency doctor Pierre Carli told reporters Saturday night that one child was on life support, three others were seriously injured but out of imminent danger, and four others were "simply under observation," according to the AP.
One of the injured adults is the mother of some of the injured kids, he added. The adults' conditions were not disclosed.
Cmdr. Pascal Gremillet, an off-duty firefighter, was visiting a nearby museum when the bolt struck, Paris fire service spokesman Eric Moulin told the AP. When he went over to see what was going on, he discovered nine of the 11 victims unconscious.
"He saw who was the most seriously injured. He did a quick triage of the victims. He did first aid. He alerted the rescue services," Moulin told the APs. "Without his actions, it would have been much worse."
The children were ages 7 to 14, reported Le Monde newspaper.
A bank close to the scene was turned into a makeshift triage center, as firefighters administered first aid before evacuating victims to local hospitals.
The second strike was at a children's soccer match in Hoppstaedten, western Germany. Police said 35 people were taken to the hospital: 30 children, ages 9 to 11, who were taken as a precaution, and three adults, who were seriously injured, including the 45-year-old referee, AP reported. The referee suffered cardiac arrest after being directly hit and had to be revived by witnesses and a doctor.
The lightning struck at around 2 p.m. local time, just as the soccer game had finished, police spokesman Dominik Lentz told the n-tv German television station.
"According to what everyone present says, there were no clouds in the sky ... so that this incident couldn't have been expected," he said, according to the AP.