Ambulance officers treated a woman after a boat she was on was struck by lightning at Mooloolaba. Picture: John McCutcheon.
Ambulance officers treated a woman after a boat she was on was struck by lightning at Mooloolaba. Picture: John McCutcheon.

Lightning hits boat in parade

A BOATLOAD of Christmas revellers had a lucky escape last night when their vessel suffered a direct lightning strike as vicious storms swept across the Coast.

Twelve people were aboard the 52' flybridge cruiser Synergy when it was hit about 6.30pm on the Mooloolah River at Mooloolaba.

It was one of scores of vessels that had turned out for the annual Christmas Boat Parade before the tempest struck and forced organisers to cancel the event.

Synergy's skipper Trevor Parkes, the commodore of Mooloolaba Yacht Club, said a woman sitting on the boat's rear deck was thrown from her chair by the blast.

He and at least two other people onboard also received electrical shocks.

The vessel immediately returned to dock, where the 47-year-old Bokarina woman was treated by ambulance officers.

Mr Parkes said she was dazed and disorientated but did not need to go to hospital.

"It was just horrific - so loud you couldn't hear a thing," he said.

"We were in a flotilla of 15 boats when we were hit and I felt it run up my arm and into my chest.

"We are just so lucky that everyone is all right."

The storm struck just as an estimated 10,000 people were gathering for the boat parade.

Spectator Claude Davey captured the incident on video (more story below) ...

"We're just devastated," event organiser Sally Hansen said.

"It's getting too close to Christmas now to find another date."

She paid tribute to the yachties who had braved the storm.

"We offered them the chance to cut and run but a lot of them said 'a little bit of a storm isn't going to scare us'."

The storm was one of three which swept across the Coast after 5pm - the first hitting Caloundra and reportedly dropping large hail on Beerburrum.

Witnesses described them as some of the most vicious in recent years.

While 2600 homes were left without power, there were few reports of damage.

The storms formed south of Toowoomba and hit Gatton, Esk and Wivenhoe Dam before moving onto the Coast.

Similar conditions are predicted today.

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