More than 300 reindeer killed by lightning in Norway


More than 300 wild reindeer have been killed by lightning in southern Norway, Norwegian officials said Monday, in the largest such incident known to date.

The 323 reindeer, including 70 young, were found on Friday by a gamekeeper on the Hardangervidda plateau, a national park where Europe’s largest herd of some 10,000 wild reindeer roam freely.

Television footage showed the animals’ dead bodies lying close together on the ground. “There were very strong storms in the area on Friday. The animals stay close together in bad weather and these ones were hit by lightning,” said an official from the Norwegian Environment Agency, Kjartan Knutsen.

Reindeer are social creatures and usually, move in packs. “It’s unusual. We’ve never seen anything like this on this scale,” Knutsen said.

Norwegian authorities have yet to decide what to do with the animals. “We’re going to decide soon whether to let nature run its own course or whether we will do something,” he said.

Of the 323 reindeer killed, five had to be put down due to their injuries. There are some 25,000 wild tundra reindeer in Norway, located in the southern mountain ranges, according to experts.

Earlier in June, a rock music festival in Germany was halted for five hours with organisers urging more than 90,000 fans to seek shelter in cars and tents as another thunderstorm approached hours after lightning strikes injured 71 people.

The sell-out “Rock am Ring” festival, now in its 31st year and with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath at the top of the billing this year, takes place at the airport in Mendig, near the Nuerburgring motor racing track.

Festival organisers told a news conference that performances would resume after the storm blew over, and said they had warned some 92,500 participants before arriving to be prepared for bad weather.

“We are not considering cancelling the festival,” said spokesperson Katharina Wenisch.

A spokesperson for the German Red Cross said 71 people were injured during lightning strikes on Friday, including eight who had to be hospitalised. Most were now in good condition, except one man who had to be resuscitated at the scene and remained in hospital, he said.

“The festival will continue as planned on Saturday. Cancellation … was never an issue,” Marek Lieberberg, who runs the festival, told fans on the event website.

He said the festival would continue to issue weather warnings via Facebook, Twitter and the event website.