FIERCE: Nature’s light show turned nasty for campers at Cotton Tree.
FIERCE: Nature’s light show turned nasty for campers at Cotton Tree.

Cotton Tree campers flung about in wild stormy night

A BOOMING crack of thunder sent electrified waves through a packed Cotton Tree Holiday Park, injuring at least six tourists.

Holidaymakers emerged from their caravans yesterday morning very much aware the lightning show was too close for comfort.

It is believed a ferocious and loud bolt of lightning sent a wave of voltage along the ground, ricocheting through the bodies of at least six guests, some up to 50 metres away.

Two men - a father and son - felt the full force of the freak lightning strike.

Min Whitehead with son Olly at Cotton Tree Caravan Park. Min was thrown out of her bed by the force of the lightning.
Min Whitehead with son Olly at Cotton Tree Caravan Park. Min was thrown out of her bed by the force of the lightning.

Steve Buchanan's father, aged in his 70s, had just finished washing up the dishes when the bolt struck the ground just outside.

He was rushed to Nambour General Hospital with chest pains. His son, aged in his 40s, was adjusting a tarp when the lightning hit.

"That lightning strike was the loudest and brightest thunder I've ever seen and heard," Mr Buchanan said.

"It was like a bomb going off."

Ms Grayson was taken to hospital with high blood pressure after she was shocked by the voltage which shot up the metal annex pole she was holding.

"My hand hurt a little bit and I had a little bit of pain later on in my elbow and up my shoulder," Ms Grayson said.

Tracey Grayson of Ipswich copped a surge while holding onto a tent pole.
Tracey Grayson of Ipswich copped a surge while holding onto a tent pole.

"Brisbane 15-year-old Sarah Teale was holding onto a metal pole under the family's caravan awning taking photos of the lightning show when she was jolted.

"I just felt it hit my heart and my hands were tingling for a while," Miss Teale said.

"I should have probably been wearing rubber thongs, but you don't think at the time and I was under cover.

"It's pretty strange to say to my friends that I was hit by lightning; it's freaky."

A few sites down, Brent Neuendorf from Toowoomba was adjusting his caravan annex during the storm when he, too, was struck.

"It felt like my ankles were exploding," he said.

"I'm all right, just had a few tingles afterwards."

Min Whitehead has been holidaying at Cotton Tree since she was a child, but has never seen or heard lightning as bad.

"I was thrown off the bed and came back down again," Ms Whitehead, of Brisbane, said. "The whole caravan park was lit up."

LIGHTNING

  • Its spark can reach more than 8km and raise the temperature of the air almost 28,000 degrees.
  • The Earth is struck, on average, by more than a hundred lightning bolts every second.
  • About 1000 people a year across the world are killed by strikes.
  • About 10% of lightning strike victims are killed, and 70% suffer serious long-term effects.


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