Students of lightning will tell you that far from it never striking the same place twice, it has favourite places it is always hitting. A structure such as New York’s Empire State Building, for example, might be struck 40 times in a single day.
Even so, the citizens of Medan on the Indonesian island of Sumatra must have felt themselves particularly unfortunate when a 51 year old Hercules military aircraft crashed this week, killing 9 people on the ground, as well as the 12 crew members and perhaps 109 passengers on board. There still seems to be confusion about the exact number of passengers.
It came down just two kilometres from where a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed shortly after take off in 2005, killing 100 people in the aircraft and 49 on the ground. An official investigation concluded the airliner had taken off with its flaps and slats retracted, meaning it failed to lift off properly.
The first indications from the Hercules crash are that one of its four engines failed shortly after take off. It is the latest in a series of accidents involving Indonesian military aircraft. Relatives of some of the passengers told reporters the victims had paid to be carried on the aircraft, which would be an illicit use of a military craft.