LIMA – Four soldiers were killed and five others injured on Friday during a training exercise on a Lima beach, the Peruvian armed forces said.
The incident involved members of the 511th Quartermaster Battalion, the army said in a statement.
Two privates, a corporal, and a sergeant died of drowning after being swept away by a strong wave.
Witnesses said the four fatalities were among a group of soldiers who stepped into the ocean to cool off in the course of a run on Marbella beach.
Municipal officials said they had posted signs on Marbella warning that the area was not safe for swimming.
Paramedics and additional army personnel rushed to the scene to render aid and transport the injured to Lima’s Hospital Militar.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took to Twitter to offer his “most heart-felt condolences to the families of the four members of the army.”
“I ordered that Peru’s Ministry of Defense apply the full weight of the law to those responsible for this tragedy,” the president added.
The military has already opened an investigation, Defense Minister Jorge Nieto said, vowing to see that anyone at fault would be punished “with the greatest possible severity.”
Neither the exercise nor the run on the beach were part of the official agenda for the unit, the minister said.
He said that the officer in charge of the exercise, Maj. Kliford Rey, was receiving treatment at the Hospital Militar for injuries received while trying to aid his men.
“The major himself was on the verge of drowning. He tried to rescue the guys and also suffered injuries,” Nieto said. “The guys are recounting traumatic situations. I will call the families personally to explain to them what happened and convey to them our sorrow.”