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Lightning strike injures 13 inmates at Hwange prison

Thirteen inmates at Hwange Prison are lucky to be alive after being struck by a bolt of lightning yesterday afternoon following a violent storm. 

The inmates were having their lunch in the prison yard when a lightning bolt struck seriously injuring four of them. The 13 inmates were rushed to St Patrick’s hospita The four were later transferred to Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo due to the extent of their injuries.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) national deputy spokesperson Superintendent Peter Chaparanganda confirmed the incident saying the inmates were receiving treatment. 

“I can confirm that on 19 November 2021 at around 11am a bolt of lightning struck at Hwange Prison in Matabeleland North province and 13 convicted male inmates were affected. The inmates were inside the prison yard around 1130hrs whilst they were being fed lunch. All the 13 inmates were rushed to St Patrick’s hospital and upon arrival 4 of them were reported to be serious while the other nine were said to be stable. The four were referred to Mpilo hospital in Bulawayo for further management,” said Supt Chaparanganda.

He said the four inmates were receiving treatment and in a stable condition. The other nine inmates are said to have escaped with moderate burns to the face, stomach, hands and legs. 

The development comes as the country started receiving its first rains with the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) issuing warnings of violent storms, hail and lightning.

This comes as the country has been experiencing extremely high temperatures known to be breeding ground for violent storms characterized by strong winds and lightning. 

“Moisture is drifting into the country from Botswana through Matabeleland North and South provinces. This coupled with high temperatures over much of the country should result in thunderstorms which may be violent in some places (coupled with strong winds, lightning, hail and heavy rains in some places). This is normal for the first time of the year, especially in a season which is expected to have normal to above normal rains,” said the Met Dept. 

It further warned people to avoid travelling in open trucks, working on the fields and hiding under trees when it rains. Motorists were advised to “take caution on the roads as they may be slippery and contain hidden dangers covered by water including fallen trees, utility poles and live wires”. The district was one of the areas that have been experiencing extreme weather conditions with temperatures hitting as high as 41 degrees. 

Meanwhile Government has through Treasury allocated funds to the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) in preparation of potential disasters brought on extreme weather events.

Localised heavy rains in excess of 30mm coupled with strong winds, hailstorms and lightning are expected to hit some parts of the country. The country has been reeling under the impacts of climate change as evidenced by the increase in natural disasters. 

Last year over 1200 lives were lost after Cyclone Idai swept through Manicaland province leaving in its wake a trail of destruction. Flash floods in Binga left over 200 villagers without homes and destroyed infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Reports of houses and schools roofs being blown off by strong winds have been reported recently. 

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