LIGHTNING STRIKES VENICE BEACH, KILLS ONE PERSON, INJURES 13

(CNN) — A relaxing day at Venice Beach took a deadly turn Sunday afternoon when a powerful lightning bolt struck the water, killing one person and injuring at least 13, emergency officials said.

The sudden lightning strike at Venice Beach caused panic as people tried to get out of the water and off the beach.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed one man in his 20s died at a local hospital after he was rescued from the beach.

But it’s too soon to say whether he died from “a lightning strike, drowning or being trampled by the crowd,” according to John Kades with the coroner’s office.

“The day started out clear, but there were storms in the forecast for the region on Sunday,” CNN meteorologist Sherri Pugh said of the isolated thunderstorms that swept through the Los Angeles area.

The lightning hit the water and the beach at 2:51 p.m. PT (5:51 p.m. ET), according to spokeswoman Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Emergency responders assessed the condition of at least 13 victims — all of whom were either in or near the water — at the scene. Of those, seven adults and one teenager were transported to local hospitals.

One was listed in serious conditions and six were listed in fair condition by late Sunday afternoon
The National Weather Service in Los Angeles tweeted around the time of the strike that “cloud to ground lightning” had been reported in nearby Marina del Rey and at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Witnesses tweeted they saw a huge bolt of lightning strike the area, with one Twitter user describing an explosion that blew off nearby roof tiles.

Lightning fatalities are pretty rare in California. Between 1959 and 2012, 31 people died after they were struck by lightning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In comparison, there were 468 deaths from lightning strikes in Florida during the same time period, followed by 215 in Texas.

The National Weather Service has compiled a list of lightning safety tips on its website.

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