At least 100 homes in one district of the town of Soesterberg were hit by ball lightning on Sunday morning, the AD reports.

The lightning, a rare atmospheric phenomenon, wrecked hundreds of televisions, computers, telephones and central heating systems, the paper says. In some households, flames came out of electronic equipment. In others, electric sockets sprang off the wall.

'I saw the lightning shoot through the street,' one eyewitness told the paper. The fireball hit a large fir tree and then went into a house, he said.

Others saw a strong purple light shoot out of the roof of one house. 'I thought something big had blown up, 'said one women who was putting croissants in the oven when the lightning hit.

Local cable company Ziggio said it had been called out to replace 97 electrical connections to households in the district.