Father and two children struck by lightning outside school
A vice principal used a defibrillator to try and save the life of a parent struck by lightning while collecting his children from a Northern Ireland primary school.
The 37-year-old man and his five-year-old son were left critically ill after being hit outside Killowen Primary School in Lisburn, Co Antrim.
The man's seven-year-old daughter was also seriously injured in the incident which happened shortly after 2pm.
The trio were just yards from the family car when they were hurt by the lightning bolt.
Killowen Primary principal Fiona Douglas said the thoughts of the whole school were with them.
In a statement, she said: "I can confirm that a parent and two children were injured outside the school's main gate this afternoon.
"School staff and parents attended to the injured family until the arrival of the emergency services.
"Following this all other pupils, accompanied by staff, went safely to nearby Laurel Hill Community College where they were collected by parents.
"The thoughts of the entire school community are with the family at this time."
As police lifted the extensive cordon shortly before 5pm, the only little sign of the tragedy which had unfolded just hours earlier were some footprints in the all-weather gravel sports pitch.
The man's black jeep was also parked a short distance away .
He was initially taken to the nearby Lagan Valley Hospital but was transferred to an intensive care unit at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.
A spokeswoman for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust described his condition as critical.
Both children were brought by ambulance to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast where a spokesman for the said the boy was critically ill and the girl was in a serious condition.
According to Killowen Primary School website, a sports day for pupils in primaries one to three was taking place on Tuesday.
There would have been a lot of activity at the time of the lightning strike as scores of younger pupils finished for the day.
DUP MLA Jonathan Craig, who sits on the school's board of governors and who was on the scene shortly afterwards, said people had been left traumatised.
He paid tribute to those who tried to help and said he expected counselling services to be offered to staff and pupils.
Mr Craig said: "People are deeply, deeply shocked and traumatised by what has happened.
"You just don't expect something like this to happen, and for three members of one family to be affected in one incident is just unbelievable.
"My thoughts are with them."
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said a number of rapid response and A&E crews were deployed and were at the school within seven minutes.
NIAS spokesman John McPoland also praised the swift actions of staff and other parents who administered first aid.
Northern Ireland has been basking in sunshine for the past week, but heavy rain and thunderstorms caused flash flooding in some areas.
On Monday, thousands of homes were left without power following lightning strikes in the Republic.
Speaking from Stormont, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said his thoughts were with the affected family.
Communities Minister Paul Givan who attended the scene and met with the school principal, also expressed concern.
Meanwhile, SDLP councillor for the area, Pat Catney, said: "There's no preparing for an incident of this nature.
"I want to put on the record my sincere appreciation for the speed with which the ambulance service responded as well as the great efforts of teachers and parents to make the area safe for other children at the school.
"My prayers and the prayers of this entire community are with the family at this very difficult time."