Irish climber McKeever killed by lightning on Mount Kilimanjaro

Ian McKeever and Samuel Kinsonga

A well-known Irish climber has been killed in a freak tragedy while scaling Africa’s highest mountain.

Ian McKeever, 42, was struck by lightning as he led a group up Mount Kilimanjaro.

It is understood a number of others along with him required medical attention.

The lecturer and broadcaster regularly mentored hikers, including many Irish schoolchildren, to scale the 5,895m-high summit through his Kilimanjaro Achievers organisation.

He was from Lough Dan in Co Wicklow.

The latest expedition set off to Tanzania from Ireland on December 28 and began their ascent the day before New Year’s Eve.

In online updates, Mr McKeever wrote that there was torrential rain but spirits remained high among the hikers.

In his final post he said: “We pray for dryer weather tomorrow – the big day. It’s the Lava Tower.” The Lava Tower is a landmark on the climb.

It is understood he was killed in a lightning storm.

The adventurer was known for many feats, including scaling Mount Everest.

In 2008, he helped his then 10-year-old godson Sean McSharry become the youngest person in Europe to reach the top of Kilimanjaro.

Mr McKeever is the former holder of the record for completing the seven highest peaks in the world.

In 2009, he was part of a team that attempted to row the South Atlantic Ocean in under 30 days, but the boat lost its rudder and they were forced to postpone the attempt.

More recently he had been attempting, along with African climbing guide friend Samuel Kinsonga, to break the record for the fastest ascent of Kilimanjaro, as part of their anti-racism Black and White Makes Sense Campaign.

He was the author of two books 'Give Me Shelter' and 'Give Me Heroes' and was working on a third book 'Give Me 28 Days'.

On his Facebook page last night, a statement said: “It is with deep regret, that we, Ian’s family, fiancée Anna and friends, advise of his sudden death on Kilimanjaro, today, doing what he loved best.”

Tributes referred to him as an inspiration.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was helping.

“We are providing consular assistance,” a spokesman said.

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