When i was a kid my dad told me a story about one of his school Gaelic football matches he was coaching at. During the match a thundering rainstorm
developed, but as you can imagine the match continued as normal.
Eventually the storm got so close that the thunder and lightning were virtually coinciding. So some of the players got into a crouched position. One
of the few remaining upright players was then tragically struck by lightning. After many failed attempts to revive him he passed away.
This story was pretty freaky when I was a kid and as i got older I found it was not a completely unheard of phenomenon. This being said I think
you'll agree with me that 11 players of the same team being simultaneously struck by lightning and killed is a little more than freaky. This is The
Tragic Case of Bena Tshadi.
In October 1998 two teams of the eastern province of Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo were playing a soccer match, and just before half time
the teams were drawing 1-1. It was at this point that a bolt of lightning struck completely out of the blue, killing all eleven players of the Bena
Although 30 other people were treated for injuries at the scene. Unusually the opposing Basanga team escaped completely unscathed. Although it was not
possible to gain official confirmation due to a civil war affecting the East of the country. It did not take long before superstitious accusations
It is common practise for teams in this region to apply the use of witch doctors to enhance their chances of success. In such a superstitious society
this incident will surely only have served to increase this practise amongst sports teams. In 2008 a deadly riot ensued after accusations of black
magic and witchcraft were made during a match between Nyuki football club and its local rivals Socozaki. Allegedly the Nyuki goalkeeper ran up the
pitch incanting a "fetishist" spell to weaken the opposing team. The riots which ensued left many injured and thirteen dead.
To put the insanity of this story in perspective here are some facts about lightning strikes;
-There are, on average, about 1800 thunderstorms in progress at any one time around the world with one hundred lightning strikes every second.
-Lightning bolts can travel 60 miles and the longest are found at the squall line of a storm.
-A lightning bolt travels at about 14,000mph bringing 300,000 volts of electricity to the ground in just a few milliseconds, and heating up the air
around it to 30,000°C - five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
-Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.
-Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year (reported deaths + injuries) 1/750,000
-Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1/6250
-Odds you will be affected by someone being struck (Ten people affected for every one struck) 1/625
Now if you were to take the probability of each of the eleven fatalities from lightning strikes in the Bena Tshadi case as separate events. The
chances of this happening are virtually non existent, and my cheap calculator won't do those kind of sums. However as they can be considered as one
single bolt and therefore event, the probabilities mentioned above are still representative of this incident. It is just unfortunate that the whole
team happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I am not a big believer in witchcraft or the superstitious in general, but after reading about this tragic case, I will definitely be seeking shelter
the next time I'm caught out in a thunderstorm.
[edit on 6-9-2010 by Big Raging Loner]