Lightning kills 11 indigenous in remote Colombia

BOGOTA: Lightning struck dead 11 Colombians and injured 15 others during a meeting of indigenous Wiwa spiritual leaders in a remote mountainous area in the country´s north, the government said Monday.

The Wiwa, who were gathered at a community in the isolated Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range in Magdalena department, were killed by “an electrical charge from a lightning bolt,” the national ombudsman´s office said.

“Tribal leaders were meeting at the moment when this natural phenomenon took place,” the office, charged with protecting Colombia´s human rights, said.

The Wiwa, who were previously misidentified by the office as Kogi people, were carrying out a “spiritual harmonization ritual,” the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) told AFP.

Wiwa rituals include song and hours-long reflection to ward off negative energy when the group is faced with problems such as climate change or discontent among community members, the ONIC said.

An army battalion operating in the region transported the injured, who were taken to various health facilities in the Caribbean city of Santa Marta, a five-hour drive away.

Source: AFP