Lightning kills climber in front of fiancee

Last updated 13:52 04/01/2013
TERRIBLE END: Ian McKeever, right, and Anna O'Loughlin planned to marry in September.
TERRIBLE END: Ian McKeever, right, and Anna O'Loughlin planned to marry in September.

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A well-known Irish adventurer was killed in front of his fiancee when he was struck by lightning on the top of Mt Kilimanjaro.

Ian McKeever, 42, was leading a tour group up Africa's largest mountain in Tanzania, when the freak accident occurred.

His 34-year-old fiancee Anna O'Loughlin was also among those in the 20-strong group who were injured in the storm, but McKeever was the only one killed.

A man climbing just a metre away from McKeever was shot into the air by the strike, but survived and was treated in a Tanzanian hospital with the rest of the group.

According to the Daily Mail, the group began their ascent the day before New Year's Eve.

They struck bad weather early on in the trip, but McKeever wrote in online updates the group remained in high spirits.

In his final post he said: "We pray for dryer weather tomorrow - the big day. It's the Lava Tower." The Lava Tower is a landmark on the climb.

McKeever's family confirmed his death on his Facebook page, writing: "It is with deep regret, that we, Ian's family, fiancee Anna and friends, advise of his sudden death on Kilimanjaro, today, doing what he loved best."

McKeever had scaled close to all of the most dangerous peaks in the world, including Mount Everest.

In 2007, he broke the world record for the "Seven Summits Challenge" climbing the highest summit on each of the seven continents in 155 days, 32 days less than the previous record.

In 2008, McKeever helped his then 10-year-old godson Sean McSharry become the youngest person in Europe to reach the top of Kilimanjaro.

In 2009, he was part of a team that attempted to row the South Atlantic Ocean in under 30 days. They were forced to postpone the attempt when the boat lost its rudder.

Recently, he had been attempting to break the record for the fastest ascent of Kilimanjaro with African climbing guide friend Samuel Kinsonga.

He is also the author of two books, Give Me Shelter, and Give Me Heroes. He was working on a third book, Give Me 28 Days.

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The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts the chances of getting struck by lightning at about one in 100,000.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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