Eight people, including a teenager, have been taken to hospital after a freak lightning strike at the bustling Venice Beach in the United States, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) said.

LAFD spokeswoman, Katherine Main, told the AFP news agency that one of the individuals was in a grave condition following the afternoon incident, while another was considered critical. The status of the remaining six was listed as fair.

Seven of those taken to hospital were adults while the eighth was a 15-year-old, Main said. She did not comment on their current conditions. 

The LAFD assessed an additional five people at the beach who did not need hospital care, she said.

The rare incident happened while there were isolated thunderstorms in the area. Witnesses speaking to the Los Angeles Times newspaper described scenes of panic as the sky darkened and lightning erupted shortly thereafter, accompanied by thunder and rain.

"You could hear everybody screaming," Angelica Roquemore told the newspaper.

Roger Davis was quoted by the publication as saying that his house shook and that he heard explosions. When he ran outside, his neighbour - a doctor - was trying to revive a victim, he told the paper.

Source: Agencies