Hope lost for missing soldiers

  • 2007-07-25
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - Little hope remains that the second of two soldiers who went missing after a July 18 boating accident has survived. A search for the two soldiers  's an officer and a private first class 's began after a survivor was rescued on July 19. The body of one of the soldiers was found at around noon on July 24 near the site of the incident.

As The Baltic Times went to press, the military was still continuing its efforts to find the remaining soldier. The search has been severely hampered by harsh weather conditions, and experts say there is no chance that he would be found alive after so many days.
"According to information from specialists they can survive in such climate for only 12 hours …if you compare [that estimate with] the conditions in the water, it is not possible to survive," Captain Normunds Stafeckis, press and information section officer at the National Armed Forces, told The Baltic Times. Stefeckis would not outright say, however, that the soldier had died since a body has not been found.
At 8 p.m. on July 18 three members of the National Armed Forces took an aluminium power boat out into rough water off the coast of Liepaja. Upon realizing the severity of the storm and the winds, the soldiers tried to turn the boat around to return to the port but capsized as they tried to come back in. Only one of the victims of the boating accident was able to swim back to the quay.

The lone survivor was found on the morning of July 19 between the central and the southern gates in the Liepaja port. He was rescued by the coastguard ship Ausma. After the man told his story, a massive search by the coast guard and air force rescue services began. Rescuers tried repeatedly but in vain to contact the missing soldiers by radio.

The search for the bodies was suspended on July 19 at dusk 's 24 hours after the mishap. The rescuers were then forced to further delay the search due to continued bad weather, and had to limit their efforts to the beaches in hopes that the bodies would wash ashore. "They [could] do almost nothing," Stefeckis said.
The Latvian State Police have begun an investigation into the incident.
The three soldiers were on their yearly leave when the accident occurred and were not involved in any kind of military operation, Stefeckis said. Their identities will not be released.