Lightning strike kills 15 cows

A farmer in western Switzerland was left counting his losses last week after a single electric storm left 15 of his cows dead. 

Lightning strike kills 15 cows
Thomas Bush (File)

The stormy weather that struck Switzerland last Thursday caused an unusual tragedy in the Jura: 15 Red Holstein cows, all belonging to one farmer, Jean-Luc Duvoisin, were struck down by lightning, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

“I was having a drink with a friend. Then suddenly the rain started and at about 10pm we heard a big clap of thunder, more violent than usual. Certainly that was the one that was fatal,” the farmer told the newspaper.

When Duvoisin later ventured out, he found first one carcass, then three more, and then all the rest piled together under a tree.

“Seeing so many animals on the ground is fortunately very rare in a career,” vet Sébastien Hadorn said.

The animals most likely died from internal burns as the lightning passed through them.

The loss of the animals is significant for the Duvoisin family. The number represents more than a third of the herd, which in turns means that a third less milk will be produced, greatly reducing the family’s income.

Furthermore, a deadly lightning strike is not covered by the family’s insurance.

“We love our animals,” Duvoisin said. “They are our livelihood, but first and foremost they are our animals, and we are attached to them.”

 Duvoisin said the animals are not easily replaced, as he has carefully selected the best cows across generations.

“A farmer spends years breeding animals to make a productive herd, whether for meat or milk,” Claude-André Fardel, head of local cattle farmers’ union FVSE, told the newspaper.

“It’s a long process, and to lose 15 all at once is really terrible.”

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Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th

Nearly four weeks after closing down, bars and restaurants in five of Switzerland’s six French-speaking regions will be back in business as of December 10th.

Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th
A waiter wearing a protective face mask poses in the nearly empty restaurant "Le Lyrique cafe brasserie" in Geneva. AFP

In a joint press release, Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Jura announced on Wednesday that the decision to re-open restaurants and cafés “was made in a concerted manner and with a desire for harmonisation and clarity” among the neighbouring regions.

Of the French-speaking cantons, only Valais restaurants will remain shut, as the canton had extended its closures until December 13th.

Authorities noted that the decision to re-open was driven by the steadily declining coronavirus infection rates in the regions, which until the first week of November had been among the most impacted in Switzerland.

Cantonal officials said that the re-opening “will take place in a strict health framework. It will be mandatory to consume seated and provide contact details for tracing. There can only up to four people per table.”

Tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart and masks must be worn if customers are not seated.

Additionally, establishments must remain closed between 11 pm. and 6 am, in accordance with federal rules.

Authorities said they would monitor “for the possible effects of the re-opening on the pandemic. This means the decision can be revoked if the health situation requires it”.

In Vaud, electric heaters will be allowed outside the restaurants to encourage customers to eat outdoors.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Reasons to be optimistic about the coronavirus situation in Switzerland 

Other measures will also be lifted

For instance, in Vaud museums will re-open on December 1st, and religious services will resume with a maximum of 30 people. They will have to wear masks and keep the 1.5-metre distance.

Also in Vaud, more relaxed measures will be put in place for the holidays: from December 18th to January 3rd, the limit for gatherings will be raised from five to 10 people.

However, participation in other public or private events will remain limited to five people.

In Geneva, the Council of State announced on Wednesday that museums, exhibition halls and libraries will be open from November 28th.

This new relaxation comes after hairdressers, beauticians and other wellness services resumed their activities on Saturday.

Until then, all non-essential businesses in Geneva had been shut down since the beginning of November to curb the canton’s alarmingly high contamination rate. 

You can see the situation in other Swiss cantons here.