Thirteen inmates at Hwange Prison were on Friday afternoon injured, four of them seriously, when they were struck by lightning inside the prison yard while having lunch.
Zimbabwe has started experiencing summer rains which are mostly accompanied by thunderstorms and lightning.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) national deputy spokesperson Superintendent Peter Chaparanganda told Sunday News that all the affected inmates were rushed to hospital.
“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 while they were having lunch.
All the 13 inmates were rushed to St Patrick’s Hospital and upon arrival four of them were reported to be serious while the other nine were said to be stable.
The four were referred to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo for further management,” said Supt Chaparanganda.
He said as of yesterday the four inmates were in a stable condition.
Although he could not be drawn to reveal the extent of injuries sustained, sources told Sunday News that the burns were third degree, while the other nine had mild burns.
Third degree is a severe type of burn that extends through every layer of the skin.On Thursday last week, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) issued a warning that some parts of the country could experience storms with winds strong enough to blow off roofs.
“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 MSD.
The Government has since activated disaster response teams through the Civil Protection Unit in anticipation of extreme weather related eventualities and Treasury has already allocated funds to conduct awareness campaigns on rain related hazards.
Members of the public have also been called on, to where necessary to stay indoors, avoid travelling in open trucks or working on the fields and hiding under trees when it rains.