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Lightning hits New Mexico school football practice, six hurt

By Joseph Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Six people were injured, one critically, when a lightning bolt struck during a middle school football practice in southern New Mexico, a school spokesman said on Wednesday.

The Picacho Middle School football team stopped training as the skies darkened and a light drizzle began to fall on Tuesday afternoon over the city of Las Cruces. Then the lightning hit a nearby tree, causing the victims to collapse.

"It was totally out of the blue, with no warning," said Jo Galvan, spokeswoman for the Las Cruces School District. "They fell over as the current went through the ground."

The Las Cruces Police Department said one student was taken to a burns unit at an El Paso, Texas, trauma center. Two other children, an assistant coach and a fifth injured person were also treated in hospital, added police spokesman Dan Trujillo, while a sixth declined medical treatment at the scene.

The ages of the children involved were not released.

Galvan said the critically injured student was breathing on his own on Wednesday.

"We have counselors at the school today and will also be reviewing our lightning protocols for extracurricular activities and even recess," the spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Joseph Kolb; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mohammad Zargham)