Three pilgrims were killed and 110 were injured when lightning struck Monday afternoon during a religious ceremony in San Rafael, in the central Colombian department of Antioquia, Caracol Radio reports.
The lightning strike occurred during the “Day of the Holy Cross” ritual, in which the devoted speak the name of Jesus one thousand times, believing this will protect them through the coming year.
Some 250 people were praying on top of a local area known as Sugar Loaf Hill when a thunderstorm hit. A large metal cross, which the pilgrims had brought as part of the ceremony, is believed to have attracted the lightning.
The injured were rushed to a local hospital, suffering from burns and electric shocks. The Colombian air force offered several helicopters to transport any severe cases to hospital in the department’s capital city of Medellin, however no air lifts were required.
San Rafael mayor Edgar Eladio Giraldo Morales said that many children were among the injured, because the whole community had attended the pilgrimage.
Pilgrim Nubia Galvis remained in the hospital overnight with one of the victims, her son, who was vomiting continuously and seemed to be in shock, El Colombiano reported.
“This is one of the worst experiences of my life, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. Everytime I close my eyes I remember that shock that ran through my whole body, I couldn’t move. Also, to see all the people thrown about, the priest on the floor, unmoving, and my niece too was terrible … it was very sad and I don’t think I will go back there in the future,” said Galvis.