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Lightning hits Whitby's Ribfest, 17 sent to hospital


Staff writers
July 16, 2012 — A lightning bolt that hit a tent at Whitby's Ribfest sent 17 people to hospital Sunday.


17 people sent to hospital Sunday afternoon
17 people sent to hospital Sunday afternoon

Environment Canada issued a series of thunderstorm watches for southern Ontario Sunday as strong winds, hail and heavy downpours plowed through the region.

On Sunday afternoon, Durham Regional Police confirmed that a group of people were injured in Whitby when lightning struck a tent at the annual ribfest. At least 17 people were sent to hospital after the strike. None of the victims have life-threatening injuries and all are expected to be ok.

They were among hundreds of people that ran to the tent when the storm hit, but the lightning struck one of the tent's steel poles.

"There was a high tent pole and the tent pole got struck and those people that were in the tent got the residual," said Sergeant Al Valks with the Durham Regional Police.

One of the festival-goers who was inside the tent said it sounded like a bomb going off.

"You see the flash and it sounded like a bomb (went off) exactly at the same time. It was so loud," said Steve Peddle, who was with his wife inside the Whitby Ribfest's main dining tent. "All of a sudden, like not even three seconds after that, you started hearing people screaming."

Officials offer these tips on staying safe when lightning strikes.

Visit the Alerts section of the website to keep on top of watches and warnings across the country.

With files from The Canadian Press

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