Wednesday, April 22, 2009
A comrade of Princes William and Harry was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan after taking his helmet off to cool down, an inquest heard yesterday.
Fijian Ratu Babakobau, 29, was searching a dry river bed when his armoured vehicle hit a mine while on routine patrol in the Nowzad area of Helmand Province.
Three other soldiers and a translater were injured - one of whom was blown 30ft out of the vehicle by the force of the blast.
Princes William and Harry said they were "deeply saddened" by the death of their colleague, who was affectionately known as 'Baba' by pals.
Yesterday the inquest in Trowbridge, Wilts., heard how Trooper Babakobau had taken his helmet off just moments before the blast.
Group commander Captain Rowland Spiller said: "He had his helmet on but on his return to the vehicle he took it off due to the intense heat.
"Suddenly felt a blast come from behind and I felt the whole vehicle lurch to the right."
Trooper Babakobau died of massive blast injuries on May 2 last year.
He is survived by wife Camari and two young sons, Ratu Seru and Ratu Sakeasi Sucumailodoni Selamu. The two-day inquest continues.