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A teenage girl from Maine was killed by a sudden lightning strike that "felt like a bomb" while playing soccer in New Brunswick.

Sarah Elizabeth McLain, 14, of the Lee area in eastern Maine was playing in a tournament in Fredericton on Sunday when she was struck just before 3 p.m.

Teammates and parents rushed to the girl's aid and tried to administer CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive. She was believed to be breathing as she was rushed to hospital.

Witnesses attending the soccer games said the lightning struck suddenly.

"It was just thunder and lightning at the same time, with no warning whatsoever," said Ron LeBlanc of Dieppe, N.B., whose daughter was playing on an adjacent field. "It was 'boom,' instantaneous. It felt like a bomb."

Mr. LeBlanc said there had been some mist at half time, but it went away and became sunny again.

"Once it happened, the first reaction was that everyone hit the ground, not knowing if another lightning blow was going to strike," he said. "The next reaction was, there were parents, who appeared to be paramedics, who immediately went to the rescue of this little girl."

Bill Richards, a climatologist at Environment Canada in Fredericton, said there was some rain forecast for the area in the morning. At 12:41 p.m., the forecast was amended to include a 40-per-cent chance of showers or thunderstorms.

"There's no indication that these storms were of unusual intensity," Mr. Richards said. "There were a number of storms which passed the Fredericton area throughout the day, the earliest being around one o'clock in the afternoon."

Mr. Richards said the Fredericton area, on average, gets about four thunderstorm days every July.

The tragedy occurred as the team from Maine was playing against Fredericton in the final match of a weekend tournament.

Dan Coffin of the Fredericton District Soccer Association, which sponsored the tournament, said it is up to on-field officials to decide if playing conditions are too dangerous for a game to continue.

But he said that didn't appear to be the case Sunday afternoon.

"Our concern is always the safety of the children, and we had officials in place to make sure that happens," Mr. Coffin said.

Two other people were taken to hospital for observation and one girl from Maine was admitted to the pediatrics unit.

All three were listed in good condition.

The victim was playing in the 14-and-under girls final when the tragedy occurred. There were four teams playing on two fields at the time.

Twenty-four other people were taken to hospital as a precaution, health spokewoman Shelley Fletcher said. Social workers were also on site to assist.

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