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Colombian soccer player killed by lightning

© Reuters 2002

BOGOTA, Colombia, Oct 24 (Reuters) - A Colombian soccer player was killed by a lightning bolt on Thursday while he was training with his team in the middle of a downpour, teammates and soccer officials said.

Former international midfielder Hermann Gaviria was training with his Deportivo teammates in the southern city of Cali when he was struck by lightning, leaving him unconscious on the field. Four other players were injured by the lightning, one of them critically.

Gaviria, 33, was taken to a nearby hospital after distraught teammates and doctors tried to resuscitate him. He died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

"The world fell down on us," player Mauricio Espinosa told television reporters from his hospital bed.

The other injured players were international midfielder Geovanny Hernandez, Geovanny Cordoba and Carlos Alvarez. Cordoba was reported to be in critical condition.

"We felt a big electrical charge and when we turned around we saw several players lying on the field," player Abel Aguilar said.

Gaviria was a member of the ill-fated Colombian national soccer team in the 1994 World Cup in the United States. One of his teammates, Andres Escobar, was gunned down by the Medellin drug cartel days after scoring an own goal against the U.S. team, eliminating Colombia. The entire team was said to have received death threats.
(C) Reuters Limited 2002.

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