Police and National Guard investigators at the scene of the accident (photo: ANT1)

National Guard officer dies in climbing accident

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A young officer serving in the Cyprus National Guard died on Tuesday, after falling off a 40-metre cliff during a training exercise in the mountainous area near Trooditissa monastery, the Defence Ministry said.

Ministry spokesperson Christos Pieri confirmed that a 32-year-old army officer fell to his death while trying to descend from a cliff using a climbing rope, which appears to have snapped.

“Unfortunately, we lost one of our colleagues today,” Pieris told state broadcaster CyBC.

The officer was identified as Xanthos Kyriakou from Limassol, and his next of kin have been informed.

The officer, according to Pieri, was descending a cliff while tied to a rope to a concrete platform in a ravine, when the rope reportedly broke and he fell several metres.

Following his fall, Kyriakou was airlifted by helicopter to the Nicosia General hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

One possibility that is being investigated is whether the rope had been worn from friction on the rocks during previous attempts by his fellow officers.

The incident is being investigated by both the National Guard command and the Limassol police Criminal Investigation Department.

In his statements to CyBC, Limassol police spokesperson, Lefteris Kyriakou, said that the accident occurred at 8.30 am.

“Using a rope, he was trying to get down to a special platform. While trying to get down, the rope he was holding snapped, as a result of which he fell off the cliff. Evidence has been collected and further examinations will be carried out.”

Police are on site investigating the accident while the army has launched a probe. Medical examiners Angeliki Papetta and Orthodoxos Orthodoxou were also called in to inspect the body and the scene of the accident.

Extending the Defence Ministry’s condolences to his family, spokesperson Pieris added that the ministry wanted this accident to be thoroughly investigated.