Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to a talented young surfer who had hopes of qualifying for the Olympics after she was struck by lightning on a beach in El Salvador.
Katherine Diaz Hernandez, 22, was practising near her home at the Pacific coast beach of El Tunco when she was hit by lightning on Friday.
The president of the government’s Salvadoran Sports Institute, Yamil Bukele, posted a message expressing condolences to her family.
“I just found out about the death of Salvadoran surfer Katherine Diaz,” he wrote.
“I am very sorry for this death and I join the pain that overwhelms her family. Our solidarity with ‘el Bamba’ and the surf family. Peace for your soul.”
Another wrote: “Praying tonight for her family. Just this morning we were celebrating with her and the other promising surfers in El Salvador. This evening she was struck by lightning while surfing. Please keep Katherines family in your prayers.”
“Terrible news to hear. Top surfer and Olympic hopeful representing our country,” wrote a local El Salvadorian fan.
Diaz had been training for a global tournament, set to be held in El Salvador, that serves as a qualifying even for this year’s Summer Olympic Games.
She also worked as a chef and had opened her own business in El Tunco.