Cyprus Mail

Commando injured during training exercise dies

File photo: members of the special forces

The 27-year-old soldier who was critically injured during training exercise earlier this week has died, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

He has been named as Panayiotis Yiannios.

The ministry of defence on Wednesday night sent its sincere condolences to the family and to other contract soldiers.

Yiannios died on Wednesday afternoon in Nicosia general hospital ICU.

The special forces contract soldier was injured as part of a military training exercise on Monday since when he had been in critical condition at Nicosia general hospital ICU.

The soldier had been intubated and placed in a medically induced coma after suffering brain swelling and spine fractures during the accident.

Defence ministry spokesman Christos Pieri told local media that the soldier was one of the most experienced and qualified, having served as a contract member of the army for six years – “It was not his first time, he had carried out such training and exercises before”.

Pieri explained that the man jumped from the helicopter, at a height of about eight metres, as part of a scheduled exercise, landing in the sea in Lara area of Akamas.

The soldier was rescued by a boat according to the scenario of the exercise, Pieri added, but was then found to be unconscious.

Asked on Tuesday what went wrong, Pieri said that from the injuries sustained it appears that the fall into the water did not happen correctly – going in legs first – which is how the back and perhaps the head were hit. Such training exercises are routine, Pieri added, saying that they are carried out each month.

The national guard announced later Tuesday that an investigation had been opened and was being led by brigadier Solomos Solomou, deputy commander of operational HQ. Pieris explained that Solomou has extensive experience in field exercises and training and is former commander of the special forces.

The defence ministry official further stated that the doctor monitoring the soldier’s case issued a morning review of the patient’s health status, explaining that it remains very serious.

The young man was taken to the accidents and emergency department at Paphos general. Due to the seriousness of his condition, he was later transferred to Nicosia general hospital.

It was stated that no one on board the helicopter has so far reported anything untoward in the buildup to the incident.

The accident comes about a month after a female contract solder died following a road accident during national guard duty in Nicosia.

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