by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, January 2, 2014
Eight people were killed when lightning struck a Seventh-day Adventist church in Lilongwe, Malawi, on Sabbath afternoon (December 28). A ninth person was in intensive care at Kamuzu Central Hospital, according to reports on the Sky News satellite television channel and 40 more were treated and released by Sunday morning. At least one child was among the casualties.
The dead and injured were engaged in a prayer meeting in a church building when the lightning strike occurred, reported the Nyasa Times. "I first heard a loud burst which frightened almost everybody and a few minutes later I just saw a stampede," the newspaper quoted an unidentified eyewitness. A spokesperson for the National Police told the newspaper that the incident was under investigation.
"I am very saddened by this tragic news," the newspaper quoted a member from the Soche Seventh-day Adventist Church in Blantyre. Especially "considering this was also the last Sabbath of the year" which is a time for all-day prayer meetings in many places around the world. "What a sad way to depart."
There are nearly 3,000 Adventist congregations in Malawi with a total of about 600,000 adherents in a nation with a total population of 17 million. The denomination operated nine primary schools with a total enrollment of 3,300 and seven secondary schools with about 1,100 students, according to the most recent Annual Statistical Report. It operates three hospitals and 17 clinics in the country, as well as Malawi Adventist University, a publishing house, radio and television station.