Chief of Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Graham Lintott, has confirmed that at just after 9 am, in the Waiouru Training Area, an unexpected explosion occurred, causing instant and fatal injuries to Flight Sergeant Andrew Forster. A second Air Force Sergeant received minor injuries.
Both are part of the NZDF tri-service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron and they were involved in the routine marking of the location of an unexploded artillery shell so that it could be disposed of later.
“Today is an incredibly sad day for the Air Force and for the whole New Zealand Defence Force,” says Air Vice Marshal Lintott.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Flight Sergeant Forster. We have lost a very well liked and respected Flight Sergeant, and as a New Zealand Defence Force family we all share the grief.
“This has come as a tremendous shock to all of our people.
“Our focus now turns to Flight Sergeant Forster’s family, his Squadron colleagues, and many friends throughout the NZDF and elsewhere. Our people have been with the family since this morning and we will continue to support them in any way we can. We ask that you respect their privacy at this tragic time. Please direct any media queries through our media team."
A thorough investigation has begun by the NZDF and we are working with the NZ Police and have notified the Coroner.