British soldier drowned in river on night out in Estonia

Israel Delanimati drowned in Estonia - British Army Support Officer - Fiji/Twitter
Israel Delanimati drowned in Estonia - British Army Support Officer - Fiji/Twitter

A British soldier has drowned in a river after a night out in Estonia.

Israel Delanimati, 24, from the 3rd Battalion The Rifles, fell in the Emajõgi river in the southern city of Tartu on Saturday.

His friends raised the alarm when Mr Delanimati, originally from Fiji, failed to return to a hotel he was staying in.

The rifleman had been deployed in Estonia on Operation Cabrit at the time of his death.

Local media reported Mr Delanimati was captured on CCTV walking alongside the river at around 3.40am and that bystanders attempted to rescue him before his body was recovered.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 24-year-old’s death is now under way.

Army’s ‘immense sadness’

According to the Times, it is understood the soldier had recently separated from his long-term girlfriend. The Army said the rifleman’s family have been informed and his funeral is expected to take place in Fiji.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence confirmed the soldier’s death during a period of “operational standdown”.

“It is with immense sadness we confirm the death of a British soldier from the 3rd Battalion The Rifles, while deployed on Operation Cabrit in Estonia.

“He died following an incident in Tartu on June 3 during a period of operational standdown. The circumstances surrounding the death are being investigated. The soldier’s next of kin have been informed.”

A tweet from British Army Support Officer - Fiji read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rifleman Israel “Kinah” Delanimati of 3rd Battalion The Rifles. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

Operation Cabrit

The British Army has around 900 troops stationed in Estonia, where the UK maintains a leading role in a Nato deployment that includes French and Danish soldiers.

Codenamed Operation Cabrit, the deployment is part of Nato’s “enhanced forward presence”, supporting troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Last month, a Navy soldier was found dead following a night out in Stockholm. The man was reportedly on a night out in the capital with a colleague before he ended up at a home in Solna, north of the capital, where he was found dead.

The 25-year-old serviceman was in Sweden carrying out military drills on board HMS Albion for the Aurora 23 defence exercise at the time of his death.