Four climbers cheated death after they were blasted off the side of a mountain by lightning and then fell 10 metres onto a ledge after a freak summer storm broke out in the Austrian Alps.
The four mountaineers from Poland were climbing Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, which is 3,798 metres (12,460 feet) above sea level.
The lightning hit the ground some 15 metres (50 feet) from where the group, aged between 28 and 32, were climbing and the blast was so powerful that it sent them flying. In addition, the high voltage left them stunned and temporarily unable to do much to save themselves as they fell 10 metres (33 feet) to the ground in the rocky terrain.
The three men and one woman had almost reached safety when the accident happened as they were reportedly just 100 metres (328 feet) from the next mountain hut, located at an altitude of 3,454 metres (11,332 feet), when the lightning struck.
Rescuers said that one of the men was able to make contact with emergency services, but the weather conditions meant that it was too dangerous for the rescuers to come out immediately.
However, there were some mountain rescuers in the nearby hut and when the storm passed they were able to reach and secure the group. They were taken to the hut where they received treatment and spent the night before a helicopter was able to rescue the climbers early the next morning.
If the mountain hut had not been full of mountain rescuers, it is unlikely that all four would have survived the night, according to rescue workers.
They were flown to hospital in Lienz in the western Austrian state of Tyrol. The current condition of the four was not revealed.
The Austria Metro page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.