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Commando training courses suspended after 11 recruits admitted to hospital

The ministry of defence has announced today that it is suspending all Commando training courses, following the death of one recruit in stultifying temperatures last Sunday (click here), and “various other incidents” in which 10 young soldiers have had to be admitted to hospital.

One is still in an extremely serious condition which reports suggest will only improve if he receives an urgent liver transplant.

Defence minister Azeredo Lopes has told RTP3 that he is following the situation “with great concern”.

Army spokesman Vicente Pereira has stressed however that the government decision refers only to future courses – the first of which was due to take place in January.

The 127th Commando training course that is ongoing in Alcochete – and which has seen so many dramas – is still underway.

Meantime, public ministry and internal army inquiries have opened, and it is hoped they will pinpoint whether enough was done to protect recruits exercising in temperatures that exceeded 40º C (click here).

Questions centre on whether the army has been pushing young men “beyond the limits of the human body”, explain SIC television news today.

As Azeredo Lopes has explained “it is important to have various eyes on the same reality”.

Azeredo Lopes’ concern is not simply as a minister, he said, but “as a human being” – stressing that he will not take any further action until he receives the results of both inquiries.

But while TSF radio explains that the condition of the second soldier taken into hospital on Sunday shows “progressive improvement from a global point of view” though “liver function remains compromised”, media elsewhere suggests that Dylan Silva is unlikely to survive without an urgent transplant.

The young recruit’s body temperature was 42º when he was admitted to hospital on Sunday, and it remains high (38.5º) despite all medical efforts, reports national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

The young soldier was initially transferred to Barreiro Hospital with “organ failure due to his high temperature and dehydration”, but later transferred to Lisbon’s Curry Cabral, where he now awaits a transplant.

CM says he has been moved to the top of the transplant list, while five of the other recruits admitted to hospital remain interned, their conditions described as “stable”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com