It was Sunday, and the Shapovalovs, residents of the town of Belovo in the Kuznetsk Basin, were visiting their daughter at a children’s recreational camp outside the town.
Having completed their visit, the spouses decided to take a short rest on the bank of the Chumysh River prior to taking a bus back to the town. A thunderstorm came out of the blue. Brilliant flashes in the sky and roaring thunder made the woman cling to her husband who responded by kissing her on the lips. A moment later the man was struck by lightning, which pierced the upper right-hand part of his chest and went through his wife’s body into the ground. Apparently, the spouses did not realize what had happened to them. They collapsed to the ground with their arms still put tightly around each other.
Those who witnessed the accident were reportedly too scared to approach the victims at the beginning. However, eyewitnesses somehow managed to call an ambulance.
The Shapovalovs are still in an intensive care unit of a local hospital. Their condition is grave but both of them regained consciousness, according to doctors.
“Though the lightning hit the male patient in the right side of his body, he sustained greater damage than his wife did. The Shapovalovs survived because the discharge was divided nearly fifty-fifty among them, so to speak,” said a spokesperson for the hospital.
“A discharge of natural electricity up to tens of millions volts with electric current measured in hundreds of thousands amperes seems to be a killing force nobody could survive,” said Albert Ivannikov, Candidate of Science (Physics and Mathematics). However, a human being struck by lightning can sometimes survive because the discharge travels through his body in millionth parts per second without causing irrevocable damage. Just a handful of people can survive when lightning strikes them. For instance, about 900 persons stay alive in the United States each year following lightning incidents,” Ivannikov added.
“The case reported in the Kuznetsk Basin actually proves the rule. According to statistics, the number of females struck by lightning is six times smaller than that of males. We do not know yet why it happens this way. Some researchers claim that testosterone, the principal male sex hormone, is to blame. They believe testosterone somehow attracts celestial electricity. In the case mentioned above, the spouses divided the discharge in accordance with Ohm’s law. In other words, they became two ‘conductors’ connected in series. As a result, both victims struck by lighting received a smaller discharge of electricity, and survived the accident in the end,” Ivannikov said.
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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