Lightning struck six children in southern France as violent storms triggered mudslides and floods that damaged hundreds of homes, officials
The children, aged 11 and 12, were playing football in a stadium near the southeastern city of Avignon when the storm broke on Tuesday night. The lighting struck as they ran for the changing rooms, police said.
One of the six was hit directly by the bolt, suffering cardiac arrest. He was rushed to an intensive care unit in Marseille where he remained in critical condition on Wednesday, doctors said.
The other children, two of whom were knocked unconscious, were hospitalised with light injuries.
Firefighters were called out hundreds of times as storms swept across eastern and southern France, with dozens of people evacuated from their homes for safety.
In the southwestern town of Roquefort, around 100 homes were flooded, with similar damage in half a dozen towns along the bank of the Agenais river.
Mudslides also hit two villages in the nearby Toulouse region, Houga and Lombez.
Water levels rose to more than a metre (three feet) in many towns, including the southwestern villages of Saint Martin de Vers and Saint Sauveur La Vallee.
The water had receded by Wednesday morning in the southwest, though weather officials put the region on alert for further storms.
In the eastern Dijon region, firefighters were also called out more than 350 times as the downpour flooded homes and shops.
Fifteen people were evacuated from a building in the Dijon suburbs that caught fire after being struck by lightning.
And in the eastern Lyon region, firefighters intervened 130 times as homes and basements were flooded by the rain, which also caused some damage to local roads.