Two British soldiers of the Royal Tank Regiment have died and two others are being treated for injuries after an incident involving a tank which was taking part in a live-fire exercise at the Castlemartin ranges in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales.
According to today’s British daily “The Guardian” there was “an explosion or intense fire inside the Challenger 2 tank” on 14 June. “No other tank was involved and the Challenger was not hit by a shell,” the newspaper states.
According to a Ministry of Defence spokesman “the defence accident investigation branch is conducting an investigation in conjunction with the civilian police. A ban on tank live-firing training has been put in place until the findings of the investigation are known.”
Tobias Ellwood, UK Minister for People and Veterans at the Defence ministry, confirmed the first of the two deaths yesterday morning. “It is with deep sadness that I can confirm the death of a soldier from the Royal Tank Regiment who died as a result of injuries sustained in an incident at Castlemartin ranges,” he stated.
Late last night Ellwood confirmed a second death: “It is with great sorrow I can confirm the death of a second soldier from the Royal Tank Regiment following yesterday’s incident at Castlemartin ranges.”
He added: “[Two] other soldiers have also been wounded […] The safety of our personnel is our absolute priority and a full investigation is under way to understand the details of this tragic incident.”
These are not the first deaths during training exercises at Castlemartin. Five years ago Michael Maguire, a 21-year old soldier who had survived a tour to Afghanistan, died after being hit in the head by a machine-gun bullet as he rested in a supposedly safe area at the training ground. An inquest jury ruled he had been unlawfully killed.