Probe into soldiers rafting death

Austrian accident investigators have started carrying out tests on the raft that capsized leaving a British soldier dead after an accident on the Inn river last week.

The 22-year-old man, who has not been named, was on armed services ‘adventurous training’ exercise and although the river Inn which they were travelling along had been heavily swollen by rain, police say that this would not normally been a reason to cancel the trip.

The accident happened on the Landecker Ravine section of the river and local said that between June and August it was frequently used by rafting groups – with trips going ahead regardless of the water levels.

About 100,000 tourists a year take advantage of rafting trips in the Austrian province of Tirol – and local tourism officials maintain strict safety standards with regular inspections of the boats.

Marcel Pachler, who is in charge of the local Tirol rafting Association, said that the route had a danger rating between three and four out of a possible six which would be the maximum. The raft had turned over right after it was launched tipping the occupants into the water. Three of the people on board who were soldiers had apparently attempted to turn the raft back over but were swept downstream.

Pachler added: “This activity takes place outdoors and there is always a risk although everything is done to minimise this. Nevertheless – in the wild you cannot control everything. Whatever the cause was here, it will be identified as the investigation goes on.”

Police said their enquiries were centring on whether that was a technical problem with the raft and why three had not been quickly rescued, but not on the conditions and whether it had been wise to go ahead with the trip given the recent heavy rain.

The two men who survived had managed to swim to shore themselves and pull themselves out of the water.

The dead man was with 2 Logistic Support Regiment and was airlifted to hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.