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Women died after lightning struck bra wire

TWO women were killed by a bolt of lightning after the metal in one of their under-wired bras acted as a conductor, a London inquest heard Wednesday.

Sunee Whitworth (39) and her friend Anuban Bell (24) lay dead in the city's Hyde Park for more than 15 hours because passers-by thought they were vagrants or drug addicts and were too frightened to approach.

In what was described as an ``act of God'' the inquest heard how the wire in Mrs Whitworth's bra acted as a conductor for the electrical charge.

Dr Paul Knapman, the Westminster coroner, who recorded a verdict of death by misadventure, said: ``This is the second time in my experience of 50,000 deaths where lightning has struck the metal of a bra.''

The two women, both from Thailand, had been on a shopping trip and died instantly as they sheltered under a tree during a thunderstorm.

Dr Iain West, a pathologist, told the inquest that the metal had melted. He said: ``They were enveloped in a massive amount of energy.''

Dr West said both had burn marks on their bodies which were ``typical electrical storm damage''. A brick on the ground between the two bodies had been fragmented into dust by the force of the lightning, he said.

Samantha Clout, who walks through Hyde Park to and from work, told the inquest that she had seen two women lying under the tree on the evening of September 22. The next morning she noticed that they were still there and raised the alarm.

Ms Clout said she had not gone too close to the bodies the previous evening because she had seen homeless people in the park many times.

She said: ``I thought they may have been on drugs and had passed out. I was too scared to approach them.''

Trevor Whitworth (63), a retired teacher who had been married to Sunee, a chef, for 12 years, told the inquest that he believed the two women had gone to London's Chinatown and had then chosen to walk in Hyde Park before his wife went to work at around 5pm.

Mrs Bell, who was married to an accountant, Christopher Bell, also lived in London.

Speaking outside the hearing, Mr Whitworth said he was ``obsessed'' by his loss. Flanked by his children Amie (11) and Stephen, nine, he added: ``I sleep with her ashes. I have the clothes that she was wearing when she died and I am going to keep them for ever.''

Mr Whitworth met his wife while travelling to Australia. They were in the process of divorcing because, Mr Whitworth said, his wife wanted to own property in Thailand but could not while married to a foreigner.

The decree absolute came through on the day her body was found, but he is trying to have it cancelled because she was dead the day before.

(Daily Telegraph, London)

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