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Pictures: 6 soldiers die in training

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6 soldiers die in training

A ravaging veld fire that ripped through the South African Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatla, Northern Cape on Friday, 6 October, has killed six soldiers.

The fire is said to have broken out at around 13:45 after it had rolled-over from the western border of the mine that is next to the training area in the CTC.

This was confirmed by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesman Major General René Mercuur.

6 soldiers die in training

“It is reported that six soldiers of the SA Army lost their lives during the incident. Three who were injured with second degree burns have been evacuated to the nearest hospital,” he said.

At the present moment, René said the names of the deceased have not been made public yet and will only be done once the next of kin have been informed.

6 soldiers die in training

According to René elements of the SA Army were deployed in the vicinity where the fire happened in preparation for the annual SA Army exercise named Exercise Vukuhlome.

He said their efforts have been directed to containing the fire.

“At the moment the focus is to contain the fire and to account for all members who were in the area where the fire occurred. The fire brigade are doing everything in their power to extinguish the fire which has resulted in destroying the camping equipment and vehicles.

6 soldiers die in training

“The SA Army is currently assessing the situation on the ground and further information regarding this incident will be communicated in due course as investigations are still underway,” he said.

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The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise among many other SANDF top brass have extended their deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the six deceased who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

This tragedy comes after four SANDF members died in September after an incident involving two service vehicles.

At the time SANDF spokesman Brigadier-General Andries Mokoena Mahapa said the members were travelling in a SA Military (SAMIL) 50 vehicle, which was towing an unserviceable version of the same model.

The towed vehicle then burst its right front tyre.

The Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs said the fire spreading from Kathu in the Gamagara Local Municipality to Lohatla, is cause for concern and calls for an urgent national intervention.

“Our disaster unit has escalated the matter to the head of the National Disaster Management Centre for their intervention. While the South African National Defence Force activated their own choppers to extinguish the fire. The Fire Protection Association will work closely with them.”

“Should SANDF require additional assistance it will be done through the Provincial Joint Intelligence Structure which will then escalate it to the National Joint Intelligence Structure for directive on the deployment of additional support,” said the departmental spokeswoman Tshenolo Meruti Sebolai.

-daily sun

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