Five fatalities, nearly 140 injured after storm in Tatras

2019-08-23 19:30 aktualizacja: 2019-08-24, 17:06
Photo PAP/Grzegorz Momot
Photo PAP/Grzegorz Momot
Nearly 140 people were injured as a result of a series of lightning strikes that hit the Tatra mountains during heavy storms on Thursday. Four people, including two children, died on the Polish side of the mountain range, and one on the Slovak side.

The injured people were transported to hospitals in Zakopane, Nowy Targ, Limanowa, Myslenice, Sucha Beskidzka and Krakow, southern Poland.

The lightning strikes pummeled the Giewont peak, a trekking destination that is 1,894 metres high, as well as other locations across the Tatra mountain range. 

Five helicopters, 13 ambulances and nearly 80 firemen took part in the rescue operation coordinated by the Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue Emergency Service (TOPR).

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who went to Zakopane, extended his sympathies to relatives of the victims and expressed thanks to all the services taking part in the rescue operation. 

Rescue services searching the mountains for anyone else who might need help established on Friday that all nine people that had been sought as missing after the storms were safe. 

"It was possible to determine their whereabouts. Everyone is safe," spokesman of the Zakopane police Roman Wieczorek told PAP on Friday afternoon.

"We have finished the search, but new circumstances may appear at any moment. We are ready for it," he added. 

In another rescue operation in the Tatra Mountains, TOPR rescuers found the body of one of the cavers who went missing in a cave on Saturday after being trapped by rising water. Wielka Sniezna is Poland's deepest and longest cave. 

On Friday, during the signing of the act on the implementation of social services by the social services centre, participants of the ceremony at the Presidential Palace, including President Andrzej Duda, honoured the victims with a minute's silence.

"Highlanders, people of the mountains, people from Zakopane, as well as tourists and guests are extremely shocked by what happened. Thank you very much for honouring their memory and for your thoughts about those who were injured," the president said after a minute of silence.

The Zakopane prosecutor's office has launched a probe into the Thursday disaster in the Tatra Mountains, the office's head, Barbara Bogdanowicz, told PAP on Friday

Friday was proclaimed a day of mourning in Zakopane. (PAP)

at/ mr/ jch/ ej