CEBU CITY -- Lighting struck a group of police trainees as they took shelter under some trees and ate their lunch in Barangay Poblacion, Sibonga Tuesday afternoon.

The instructor and four of the 17 trainees were badly hurt, but in stable condition last night.

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A bolt of lightning hit the shotgun of PO1 Aldrin Laurente, then bounced among the trainees in Class 23 of the Regional Public Safety Management Batallion (RPSMB) 7, said PO3 Joro Baricuatro.

It sounded like gunfire, said Reginita Antier, 50, a resident who was sitting outside her daughter Christine Pastera’s house, when the freak accident happened at 12:30 p.m. It was raining.

“Nakaingon god mig gipusil mi diri. Kusog kayo ang buto (I thought we were being attacked. The blast was deafening),” she said.

Her husband Christino, 50, said some of the trainees flipped after getting shocked and suffered some wounds.

“Wa gyod tawn sila katiwas og kaon (They didn’t finish their lunch),” he said.

Christino escorted the trainees from the copse of mahogany and tamarind trees to his house in Sitio Kamansiles, where he let them stay for safety’s sake until rescuers located them.

The injured trainees were brought to the South General Hospital in Naga City, and eight were later transferred to a police hospital in Camp Sotero Cabahug, Cebu City.

Of the group, the five who were seriously hurt were the instructor, PO1 Laurente, and trainees PO1 Mark Joel Molina, PO1 Edmund Sumalinog, PO1 Wilfred Aparece and PO1 Barry Entea.

Chief Insp. Floresir Radaza, a physician, assured the policemen were out of danger, although they suffered burns.

They will undergo tests Wednesday to make sure their hearts suffered no damage.

The other injured were identified as PO1 Edward Gonzalez, PO1 Norman Luaog, PO1 Leah Serana, PO1 Erick Diamante, PO1 Obdula Barino, PO1 Junrey Garioade, PO1 Joeffrey Aparace, PO1 Richard Cababat, PO1 Darryl Mark Biolanoco, PO1 Cesar Gabole, PO1 Rey Duran, PO1 Sylvano Bascones and PO1 Paulino Galarce.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-O Nerez said the injured policemen received enough medical attention and that the police is taking responsibility for providing their needs.

Nerez said the policemen were being trained as scouts in the field, despite the bad weather.

“They were in the field for the instructor to see whether they really learned the lessons taught inside the classroom or not,” Nerez said in Cebuano.

He said he temporarily stopped the training, which will resume “as soon as the weather permits.”

“It was unfortunate, natunong lang gyod. It was a case of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, but that’s part of training,” Nerez said. (Kevin A. Lagunda of Sun.Star Cebu)