France

British couple hit by lightning after sheltering under tree during storm in France

A British couple suffered burns from being struck by lightning after sheltering under a tree during a violent storm in the south of France.

The pair of motorcyclists were caught in a storm on Monday afternoon near the village of Villeneuve-de-Berg (Ardeche) and pulled over to the side of the main road to shelter under a tree.

But the couple, both aged in their 40s, were then struck by a bolt of lightning, according to the local Dauphiné Libéré newspaper.

The woman suffered severe burns to her chest and the man suffered burns to his arm, but both survived the incident.

French authorities reminded the public not to shelter under trees during a storm, even if it might be people's instinct to take cover, because the chances of being struck by lightning are far greater.

Getting hit by lightning might seem like a one in a million chance, but every year in France lightning strikes 100 to 200 people, with 10 to 20 deaths annually, according to the French lightning protection association (Association Protection Foudre – APF).

The month of May in France saw the most lightning strikes ever recorded as a series of storms repeatedly lashed the country. There have been more storms in recent days in the south east and south west of the country.

The risk of getting hit goes up with the temperature, so it's especially important to be vigilant during warm weather spells.

The APF stresses the importance of staying away from trees. In fact, tall objects in general attract lightning and should be avoided. The taller the object, the likelier it is to be hit by lightning.

Here's some advice on the best ways to stay safe in a lightning storm.

READ ALSO: Violent storms in France – How to avoid being struck by lightning

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