Lightning struck a tree under which members of the Shembe Nazareth Baptist Church were worshiping, KwaZulu-Natal’s Emergency Medical Services said.
Three women, aged between 50 and 65, were killed instantly and 38 others survived the strike but sustained injuries, spokesperson Robert Mckenzie said.
Those injured were taken to nearby hospitals and were currently in a stable condition, Mckenzie said.
Authorities cautioned people against using trees as a cover in cloudy conditions, particularly in the middle of summer when lightning takes place frequently.
Thunderstorms, generating big electrical discharges, are common in South Africa’s eastern and northern provinces between October and March.
South Africa has one of the highest lightning ground strike densities in the world. Particularly in recent years, deaths from lightning are growing in rural areas.
The annual average number of lightning-related deaths is 6.3 per million of the population, more than 15 times the global average, according to the South African weather service. Enditem