Marines killed on Arctic exercise

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TWO Royal Marines died yesterday after being found unconscious in a tent while on an Arctic warfare training exercise in Norway. A third man was revived after being airlifted with them to hospital in Gjorvik, southern Norway. .

The Ministry of Defence named the dead last night as Marines Philip Yates, 22, from Norfolk and William Reed, 19, from Tyne and Wear. It said they did not die from cold or exposure and may have been suffocated by fumes from a stove.

The news came as Malcolm Rifkind, the Secretary of State for Defence, began a three-day visit to Norway, which will include a visit to the brigade to which the dead men belonged today.

'The deaths are obviously very tragic and there will be a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances,' an MoD official said.

The men, from 45 Commando based in Arbroath, were among 2,000 Marines from the 3,500- strong 3 Commando Brigade who were on the exercise, 'Winter Deployment '93', which included live firing in the Valdres Valley in central southern Norway.

Sources said they seem to have settled down to sleep last night in a four-man Arctic tent near the firing ranges but did not wake up. The stoves in use are similar to primus stoves and fuelled by naphtha.

Although temperatures in southern Norway last night were just above freezing near sea level, the valley floor is over 1,000 metres above sea level. Officers with the Commando brigade headquarters in the adjacent Hallingdal valley said it was very windy in the mountain valleys, with the resultant chill factor forcing temperatures well below zero.

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