In order to avoid the rain, four horticulture staffers in Gurugram, India decided to take shelter under a tree. A video of the incident shows the exact moment lightning struck the tree. The four men can be seen falling down to the ground in an instant. All four victims survived and were rushed to a private hospital where they are being treated for severe burns.
It’s amazing that everyone survived. If you look close, at least one of the victims was leaning up against the tree when it was struck, presumably making him part of the circuit. Everyone was most likely exposed to step and touch potentials.
This is a good reminder that trees are like big lightning rods and you should never seek shelter under them in a storm. Adding lightning protection to a tree will not ensure the safety of people seeking shelter. Possible sideflashes, step potential, and touch potentials could threaten the safety of people under trees even if the trees are protected. See NFPA 780 Annex F for more info.