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Lightning strike at Mississippi military base sends 77 to hospital

By Michael Martinez, CNN
  • NEW: Four cadets were close to the lightning when it struck, affiliate reports
  • 77 were college students enrolled in Air Force ROTC
  • The military sends the 77 cadets to hospitals for evaluation after lightning strike
  • All of them were responsive and in stable condition, the military says

(CNN) -- A lightning strike Wednesday afternoon sent 77 Air Force ROTC cadets to hospitals in the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, area, where they were all responsive and in stable condition, according to spokeswoman Maj. Deidre Musgrave of Camp Shelby.

Two of the 77 were sent by ambulance, and the remaining 75 were sent to the hospital by Camp Shelby buses, Musgrave told CNN.

All 77 were college students enrolled in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, which uses Camp Shelby as its summer training site, Musgrave said.

The cadets, all of whom are seeking to become Air Force officers, come from universities across the country and had been scheduled to spend two weeks at an on-site forward operating base simulated training center, Musgrave said.

Musgrave said the base had been under a severe thunderstorm warning when the lightning strike occurred and that the facility had been receiving reports of bad weather all day. She said she didn't know what the cadets were doing when the accident occurred.

CNN affiliate WDAM reported that four of the cadets were close to the lightning when it struck.

The personnel were sent for medical evaluation because they were in the area of the lightning strike at a training site on Camp Shelby around 2 p.m., Musgrave said in a news release.

"We always want to be safe," she said.

The remaining personnel at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center quickly responded to the situation to ensure that anyone injured received medical attention, Musgrave said.