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Lightning kills construction worker at construction site

Date Posted: 2004-07-10

A 50-year-old Urasoe construction worker was killed Monday while working at a Nago construction site during a storm.

Thunderstorms pounded Okinawa July 4th and 5th, bringing powerful lightning bolts along with the rumbling thunder. Despite the weather, work was continuing on bridge construction outside Nago City, where Yagaji Island and Kouri Island are being linked by a new bridge.

A group of five men were working at one site, moving metal pipes and lining them up to the bridge. Witnesses say a lightning bolt struck Masao Miyaguni, killing him almost instantly. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors say they couldn’t do anything because his body was burned, and the man had suffered electric shock.

The killer lightning strike burned a 15cm wide hole in the concrete roadway. After passing through Miyaguni’s body, it drilled five centimeters into the concrete.

Another worker was only a few meters away, taking pipe from a truck. He heard the thunder and when he turned, his friend was down.

The thunderstorm rolled across much of Okinawa, with the heaviest action in the north and central areas of the island. Weather forecasters had predicted the heavy rains and thunderstorms, warning the Motobu and Yomitan areas.

The two towns were struck by lightning, with some damage reported. Ie Island lost power after a lightning bolt struck the power facility, but power reportedly was restored quite rapidly. Yomitan and Motobu had reports of sporatic power outages, flickering office lights and damages to computers.

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