Two men die ‘of lightning’ after climbing a volcano on the French island of Reunion

Two men die ‘of lightning’ after climbing a volcano to see it erupt on the French island of Reunion

  • Two bodies were found at Piton de la Fournaise in the Indian Ocean
  • The victims were science and technology students from the Reunion Academy.
  • Police suspect they were struck by lightning or killed by shock wave blast

Two students were found dead Thursday in a suspected “love at first sight” after they climbed a volcano on a French Indian Ocean island to watch it erupt.

Police say the blast from a lightning strike could have killed the two men, whose bodies were found near the ‘eruption cone’ of Piton de la Fournaise in the French overseas territory of La Meeting.

The two men, both in their twenties, had set out on foot on the volcano to the southeast of the island but were found dead in the volcano’s main caldera, the hollow formed after the magma erupted.

Hikers had wanted to see Piton de la Fournaise (above) erupt but may have been struck by lightning. (picture file)

Piton de la Fournaise is on the island of Reunion, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean.

Piton de la Fournaise is on the island of Reunion, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean.

The victims were only identified as students of the Faculty of Sciences and Techniques of the Academy of La Réunion.

Police suspect the students were killed by a lightning strike as their hair and soles were burned, or by a ‘blast effect’, where a shock wave causes internal damage to the body, according to Zinfos974.

“We were informed at 4/5 p.m. that the two young people had not returned,” says Lieutenant Stéphane Narbaud, commander of the high mountain gendarmerie platoon.

The students were found dead near the 'eruption cone' of the Reunion volcano (Piton de la Fournaise archive image)

The students were found dead near the ‘eruption cone’ of the Reunion volcano (Piton de la Fournaise archive image)

The commander said he mobilized four personnel by ground and two volunteers familiar with the area by air, along with two other personnel “who flew over the eruptive cone despite very difficult conditions”.

“An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. The medical examiners will focus on knowing how they died and the dating of their death,” said prosecutor Caroline Calbo.

Commander Narbaud warned hikers to stay away from the volcano.

‘Don’t risk entering the compound. You see the risks, unfortunately,” he said.

“There is no path, there is fog. Only Observatory scientists are equipped to approach an eruptive mouth.

Police warn hikers to stay away from the volcano after two students died (File image shows lava erupting from Piton de la Fournaise)

Police warn hikers to stay away from the volcano after two students died (File image shows lava erupting from Piton de la Fournaise)

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