INDEPENDENT NEWS

Fijian Soldier Dies In East Timor Vehicle Accident

Published: Tue 11 Sep 2001 02:06 PM
NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE
TE OPE KAATUA O AOTEAROA
MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fijian Soldier Dies In East Timor Vehicle Accident
At approximately 10.45 am yesterday a truck carrying Fijian soldiers from the 4th New Zealand Battalion Group left the road 3 kilometres east of Taroman in East Timor. One soldier, Staff Sergeant Maika Rakabu was killed and 11 other Fijian soldiers sustained a range of injuries.
Elements from the New Zealand Battalion and three helicopters from 3 Squadron, RNZAF assisted in a rapid and well executed aeromedical evacuation of the injured to the Slovakian Field Surgical Team facility at Suai for immediate treatment. One soldier with serious spinal injuries has been evacuated to Adelaide for specialist treatment
The Commanding Officer of the 4th New Zealand Battalion Group, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Wood says, ”We are all shocked at the loss of life and injuries incurred in this tragic accident and this death has deeply affected us all. The Fijian soldiers are an integral, popular and well respected part of the New Zealand Battalion Group. Our sincerest condolences go to Staff Sergeant Rakabu’s family and our thoughts are with the families of those who have been injured. We wish them a speedy and complete recovery.”
Joint Force Commander, Major General Martyn Dunne says, “the accident was extremely unfortunate and I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the soldier who was killed. Everything possible is being done to ensure that all of the injured Fijian soldiers are receiving the medical treatment that they need.”
A detailed investigation into the cause of the accident will be conducted.
ENDS
Contact: Major Bede Fahey, NZFOREM Public Relations Officer,
0061 407 723 645.

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