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In this image made available by the Norwegian Environment Agency on Monday Aug. 29 2016, shows some of the more than 300 wild reindeer that were killed by lighting in Hardangervidda, central Norway on Friday Aug. 26, 2016 in what wildlife officials say was a highly unusual massacre by nature. (Havard Kjotvedt /Norwegian Environment Agency, NTB scanpix, via AP)

A bizarre lightning strike killed 323 reindeer


A bizarre lightning strike killed 323 reindeer Friday on the Hardanger plateau, a remote area of Norway. 

Photos released Monday by the Norweigan Environment Agency show a landscape dotted with hundreds of reindeer corpses. 

"We've never had anything like this with lightning," Kjartan Knutsen of Norwegian Environment Agency told NBC News. 

The agency said this was the deadliest lightning strike on record. 

A gamekeeper who stumbled across the shocking scene Friday told the Agence France-Presse that 70 young reindeer were among the victims. 

"There were very strong storms in the area on Friday. The animals stay close together in bad weather and these ones were hit by lightning," Knutsen told AFP. 

It's unclear whether a single lightning bolt or several killed the reindeer. 

"The high moisture in both the ground and the air was probably an explanation for why so many animals died," Olav Strand, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institue for Nature Research said in a statement to NBC News. 

Researchers were flown in by helicopter to take samples from the dead reindeer. 

Five of the animals were found alive but had to be euthanized because of their injuries.

At this point, officials have not determined whether the dead reindeer will be left there or removed. 

"It's part of the natural ecology, this is far from where people live," Knutsen told NBC News.

The area has about 12,000 reindeer and hunters are allowed to shoot up to 2,000 each year for their meat, according to NBC News. 

For more news, check out today's 60 Second Circa. 

Circa 60 29th

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