UPDATE: Lightning hits Camp Shelby; 77 to hospital

By The Associated Press

CAMP SHELBY — Two Air Force Reserve cadets were taken to a hospital by ambulance and 75 others by bus after a lightning strike Wednesday at a southern Mississippi military training base, a spokeswoman said.

Air Force Reserve cadets from around the country were at the Joint Forces Training Center for two weeks of work, said Army National Guard Maj. Deidre Musgrave. All were responsive and stable after the lightning hit about 2 p.m., she said.

Forrest County emergency operations director Terry Steed told a National Weather Service forecaster that nobody was directly hit when lightning hit a power pole near tents. All were taken to hospitals as a precaution, said Mike Edmonston, a senior meteorologist in Jackson.

Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg is the nation’s largest state-owned military training center. Its 136,000 acres cut out of southern Mississippi’s rolling hills and pine forests includes mock cities designed to look like Iraq and Afghanistan to give soldiers realistic training.

Soldiers and airmen from around the country train there each year and tens of thousands of National Guard troops from across the country have prepared there for missions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.