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Freak lightning storm kills 323 reindeer in Norway

OSLO, Norway -- A freak lightning storm has killed 323 reindeer in a remote mountainous area of Norway, officials said on Monday. Dead animals were found lying on top of each other, many with their antlers entangled, after the thunderstorm on the...

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Dead wild reindeer are seen on Hardangervidda in Norway, after lightning struck the central mountain plateau and killed more than 300 of them, in this undated handout photo. Haavard Kjoentvedt/Norwegian Nature Inspectorate/NTB Scanpix via REUTERS

OSLO, Norway -- A freak lightning storm has killed 323 reindeer in a remote mountainous area of Norway, officials said on Monday.

Dead animals were found lying on top of each other, many with their antlers entangled, after the thunderstorm on the Hardanger plateau in southern Norway on Friday.

"We've never had anything like this with lightning," Kjartan Knutsen of Norway's nature surveillance agency said, adding there were sometimes isolated cases of sheep or reindeer struck down.

Reindeer tend to group together when in danger. It was unclear whether the herd had been killed by a single lightning bolt or several.

Hardanger was extremely wet on Friday, helping conduct lightning.

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"The high moisture in both the ground and the air was probably an explanation for why so many animals died," Olav Strand, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, wrote in a statement.

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