Tragedy befell a group of Christians in Kigali, Rwanda, over the weekend when lightning struck a church, killing at least 16 people and injuring 140 others.
The horrific event unfolded at Gihembe Seventh-day Adventist Church, with parishioners being rushed to local hospitals for emergency treatment.
Fifteen of the deceased were worshipping at the church at the time of the strike. One additional man was killed at a nearby farm, The New Times reported. In addition to the 16 deaths, two individuals are in serious condition and 17 people are still hospitalized.
Hundreds of people were in the church when the lightning struck to see a visiting choir. Emmanuel Ruremesha, a survivor, said that church services would have normally ended much sooner, but that worship was extended to watch that choir.
“Normally, we finish at mid-day sharp but because of the visiting choir, we had extended the day’s programme so as to accord more time for the visiting choir,” Ruremesha told The New Times. “By the time it started raining we had just welcomed the preacher to the pulpit.”
He continued, “Suddenly, there was a big bang, I saw a thunderbolt strike worshippers. We all fell down for minutes.”
A local woman who heard screams after the strike rushed to the scene and saw everyone on the ground. That’s when she called for help and authorities rushed in to help the victims.
Overall, up to 140 people worshipping at the church sustained injuries. The deceased victims were all buried on Sunday at a nearby cemetery.
Collette Kayitesi, the vice mayor for social affairs in the Nyaruguru district, told The New Times that the government is paying for the burials as well as treatments for the afflicted.
Lightning strikes are not uncommon in Rwanda, with a group of 18 students also being struck on Friday. One person died during that incident, according to the AP.