A group of Tzotzil Indians have spent days praying around the bodies of three children killed by lightning in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Residents of Vechijtic, a rural community about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from San Cristobal de las Casas, told Efe the three girls were struck by lightning while sheltering under a tree during a storm.

The victims' families have kept authorities away from the bodies, which were covered with a white blanket.

Relatives and friends were gathered around the bodies, praying in Tzotzil to the strains of traditional music played on drums and guitars.

Some onlookers interpreted the vigil and praying as an ancient rite intended to bring the girls back to life.

The mourners were clustered in tents furnished with tables and chairs.

Municipal authorities said that out of respect for indigenous customs, they will not attempt to remove the bodies until the families give their permission.

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