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Lightning strikes kill cattle, devastate property

Property owner Bert Zerbst points out the cattle killed by lightning.
Property owner Bert Zerbst points out the cattle killed by lightning. Alasdair Young

A BOLT of lightning is believed to have killed three cattle on a property on the Darling Downs.

The electrical storm on Monday, which raged for less than an hour, struck at least three trees and left three beasts dead about 1km from grazier Bert Zerbst's homestead at Cameby, west of Chinchilla.

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Mr Zerbst said he did not realise the extent of the damage until he went to take the dogs out for their evening run.

"It was Monday evening. I was taking the dogs for their usual run and I thought 'I don't remember seeing those bushes up there before'," he said.

"I got a bit closer and saw it was three dead beasts.

"I looked at the ground, and when they got hit they never even kicked. There were no marks on the ground. They were stone dead."

It was the second time in his life Bert had seen such a phenomenon, the first time being on his parents' property, Magic Stone, more than 30 years ago, when he claims five cows died in an almost identical way.

Mr Zerbst's three beasts appeared to be sheltering under a small tree during the moments before their sudden death.

The tree was cracked and burned in a fashion consistent with a lightning strike.

Further north, two more trees appeared to have exploded after being struck by lightning on the same day, with splinters thrown up to 40m from the tree remnants.

In exchange for the lives of the three cattle, the storm yielded only 10mm of rain.

The aftermath of a lightning strike.
The aftermath of a lightning strike. Alasdair Young

IN A STORM

  • Avoid open fields, water, tall trees and heavy farm equipment
  • Stay indoors or inside a car
  • Delay phone calls until storm has passed

Topics:  darling downs lightning weather


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