A group of about 60 indigenous villagers were gathered in a ceremonial hut to discuss problems the community was facing and took a drink break when the incident occurred. 13 other injured people with serious burns were airlifted to hospitals in the provincial capital, Santa Marta, on the Caribbean Sea coast. Among those killed was “Mamo” Ramon Gil, reportedly the spiritual leader and primary political representative of the group.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was informed and tweeted his condolences. Local members of the military and police were immediately sent to the place. “The numbers are tragic, 11 people have lost their lives and 13 more are suffering from first and second degree burns,” said to the media Colonel Jorge Santodomingo, chief technician of the Army’s first division involved in the rescue operation. “There was an incredibly powerful electrical storm,” the army said in a press release. Statistics estimate that 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world each year and about 240,000 are injured.