In final proof that as well as being awe-inspiring, nature can also be a right bastard, a lightning strike in Norway has killed more than 300 reindeer.
A spokesman for the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (NNI) told Norwegian News Agency (NTB) that 323 reindeer – including 70 calves – had been found dead in a remote private hunting area, reports The Verge.
A death toll this high is unheard of, meaning it could be the deadliest lightning strike in history.
Knut Nylend told NTB:
I don’t remember hearing about lightning killing animals on this scale before and we don’t know if it was one or more lighting strikes – that would be speculation.
The NNI have sent experts to the Hardangervidda National Park – home to an estimated 10,000 wild reindeer that migrate across the region every year – to take samples from the bodies.
Nylend suspects the reindeer may have been killed because they often huddle close together – sometimes out of fear – during thunderstorms.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the deadliest lightning strike involving livestock occurred in 2005, when 68 cows were killed in Australia.
The deadliest incident involving humans occurred in 1971, when a lightning strike caused a Peruvian airliner to crash, killing 91 people.
Guinness don’t seem to have a record for wildlife deaths due to lightning strikes, but surely this tragic incident would be a tough one to outnumber.