Lightning fatality: Strike 'very rare' on Tanzanian mountain


The rarity of a death by lightning on Kilimanjaro was emphasised by Irish adventurer Pat Falvey yesterday.

Lightning strikes occurred more often in the Alps than on Kilimanjaro because the Tanzanian terrain comprises flat plateaus rather than peaks, which attract lightning strikes.

Mr Falvey spoke with some of his staff in Tanzania yesterday who had climbed Kilimanjaro 400 times.

They said such a strike was "very rare" with odds the equivalent of winning the lottery, he said. They also suggested the lightning was part of an "unseasonal" storm.

If Mr McKeever was in the Lava Tower area of the mountain, a high rocky outcrop, it might have attracted the strike, he said.

Climbers are routinely warned of the dangers posed by lightning as many have been killed by strikes in the past .

Kilimanjaro is considered one of the safest peaks and is climbed by ab out 1,500 Irish people a year, he said. This is the first time something like this has happened to an Irish person on the mountain, he added.

The main dangers on the peak are associated with altitude rather than any other hazard.

However, lightning strikes most frequently in central Africa, which is affected by year-round thunderstorms, according to Nasa research.

This is due to weather patterns, air flow from the Atlantic Ocean and enhancement by mountainous areas,

When lightning hits the earth it can cause a powerful charge in the ground nearby.

The phenomenon kills about 2,000 people worldwide annually, according to figures from the Irish Meteorological Society.