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updated: 8/1/2013 10:58 AM

Lightning at Colo. base leaves 12 soldiers hurt

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Associated Press

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Twelve soldiers were injured, one critically, after lightning struck near them during a training exercise at Fort Carson, a base spokesman said Thursday.

Maj. Earl Brown, deputy public affairs officer at the Army base near Colorado Springs, said six of the soldiers were still hospitalized and five were treated and released after Wednesday's strike. An engineering soldier was in critical condition.

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The soldiers were training with about 340 others when lightning struck at about 2:45 p.m. south of the Butts Army Airfield.

The National Weather Service issued a warning just minutes earlier, and the men were trying to get to shelter. They did not suffer a direct strike.

"The soldiers were completely exposed on high ground," Brown said. "They were a short distance from a shelter tent when they got notification there was lightning in the area, and the commander decided to suspend training."

The injured soldiers are from the U.S. Army's 555th Engineer Brigade stationed at Fort Carson. Their names were not released.

The job of soldier engineers is to build barriers, move dirt and build structures, including towers, but Brown said he didn't know what exercise was underway at the time.

The incident comes after 11 workers were struck by lightning July 18 at a northern Colorado farm.

Two of the workers in the organic fields in Wellington were critically injured, and nine others were treated at local hospitals.

Wellington Fire Protection District chief Gary Green has said the workers were preparing land for planting when a strong thunderstorm hit. Some of them were trying to reach shelter under a tractor, and others were heading for a vehicle when they were hit.

Denver's Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration office is investigating safety procedures at the farm.

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