The Slatest

Freak Lightning Strike Kills Hundreds of Reindeer Creating Haunting Scene in Norway

Reindeer carcasses on the Hardangervidda plateau in Norway.

Havard Kjontvedt/Norwegian Nature Inspectorate

A lightning strike in Norway on Friday killed hundreds of reindeer transforming a mountaintop into a haunting scene of Norwegian noir. The rare instance of a mass death by lightning strike took place on the grasslands of the Hardangervidda plateau; the Norwegian Environment Agency says some 323 animals were killed during the lightning storm and the carcasses were clumped together.

While lightning strikes are known to kill individual animals, and even small groups, the scale of the carnage was highly unusual. “Officials surmised that an extremely high discharge of electricity from the storm on Friday afternoon—and the interaction of the lightning with the earth and water—had electrocuted the animals,” according to the New York Times. “Olav Strand, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, inspected the site on Sunday, and said the animals appeared to have died ‘as if someone just turned off a switch.’ The air was filled with a smell that seemed both sweet and sour, he said.”