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Soldier dies during training exercise on hottest day

Published 20/07/2016

An infantry soldier has died while on a training exercise.

The soldier, from The Rifles regiment, died in the Brecon area of Wales on Tuesday, Britain's hottest day of the year so far.

Three soldiers died during an SAS training exercise in the Brecon Beacons on one of the hottest days of 2013.

Lance Corporals Edward Maher and Craig Roberts were pronounced dead on the Brecon Beacons after suffering heatstroke during a 16-mile (26km) SAS test march.

Corporal James Dunsby died from multiple organ failure in Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital more than two weeks later.

A coroner ruled that neglect played a part in their deaths.

Temperatures on Tuesday peaked at just above 30C (86F) in Brecon, the Met Office said.

In March the Health and Safety Executive announced it would issue a so-called Crown Censure to the Ministry of Defence over the 2013 deaths.

It said the MoD had failed to manage risks during the training exercise and added that it had worked since the deaths to ensure lessons were learned and future risks reduced.

Following Tuesday's death, an Army spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that a soldier from ITC Catterick died on 19 July while conducting pre-course training for the Platoon Sergeants' Battle Course in Brecon."

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin told the House of Commons Defence Committee that she wanted to express her sorrow at the "very sad death" and to "make the commitment that the Ministry of Defence will, of course, be undertaking a full investigation and will share that with the committee".

The Platoon Sergeants' Battle Course is taken by infantry soldiers who want to progress to the rank of sergeant.

The course is run three times a year, with the next one set to take place in August.

It is described on the Army website as "both mentally and physically demanding".

Most soldiers take part in organised, and sometimes independent, pre-course training which can involve marching long distances carrying weight, and digging trenches.

Captain Doug Beattie, who has taken the course and run pre-courses, said it is a tough course, and needs to be so.

He said: "It needs to be demanding and I don't think there should be any call that it shouldn't be demanding, I don't think anybody would want that.

"But being a demanding exercise does not mean that you do not do your risk assessments and take all precautions so that people don't get injured in doing that.

"We cannot speculate in this case and need to wait and see what the cause was."

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