By Lucy Caulkett-
Two people have died after being hit by lightning during a severe thunderstorm outside the White House. James Mueller, 76, and Donna Mueller, 75, both from Janesville, Wisconsin, were struck in Lafayette Park, less than 500ft (150m) away from President Joe Biden’s official residence in Washington, DC.
Two other people who were struck remain in a critical condition in hospital.
Secret Service members were deployed to give emergency aid at the park due to its proximity to the White House.
The lightning hit near a tree, yards away from the fence surrounding the presidential residence and offices.
It is rare for people to die from lightning , but it happens from time to time around the world.
Last week alone, close to 50 people in India died from lightning . Most of the dead were in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which is currently in its monsoon season.
The most recent seven deaths were mainly village farmers, who were sheltering under trees during a downpour. Four were from the same family, according to police in the nearby city of Kaushambi.
So far this season, more people have died from lightning strikes than rain-related incidents like flooding.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones, and we are praying for those still fighting for their lives.”
The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department were called to the scene around 6.52pm local time on Thursday evening.Spokesman Vito Maggiolo had to issue a statement inside his car due to the “significant storm conditions”.
Mr Maggiolo thanked the Secret Service and United States Park Police for immediately responding and giving aid to the four people.
Lafayette Park is a seven-acre public space north of the White House, which is particularly popular with visitors in the summer months.
A flash flood warning was issued for the District of Columbia in the wake of the incident.
The violent storm swept through Washington as temperatures soared above 32.2C (90F) – but high humidity levels meant the heat was likened to 37.8C (100F).