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17 hospitalized after lightning hits Canada food festival

More than a dozen people were hospitalized after lightning struck an outdoor food festival in Whitby, Ontario, on Sunday, according to Canadian news reports.

Lightning struck a tent at the Whitby Ribfest, about 40 miles east of Toronto, just before 2 p.m. ET, leaving at least 17 people injured, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

It quoted organizers as saying the weather changed rapidly, leaving many at the event to squeeze under a tent moment before the strike.

One of those struck, Bill Sandiford, told the CBC: "The tent was absolutely packed full of people. It was so painful, yet the pain was gone so fast. The pain didn't linger.”

Durham police Sgt. Al Valks told the Toronto Star seven people were rushed to the hospital while the other 10 made their own way there. All of them suffered burn wounds from the strike.

"Apparently the electricity went through their feet up through their bodies. It was painful," he told the newspaper.

Steve Peddle and his wife Rose were inside the dining tent when the strike happened.

"You see the flash and it sounded like a bomb (went off) exactly at the same time," he told the Star. "It was so loud."

Organizer Colin Regan said the event tents had lightning rods on top and had prepared for stormy weather.

The Durham region had been under a severe thunderstorm warning Sunday.

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