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Indian UN soldier dies of cardiac arrest in Eritrea

Lance Corporal Ramesh Annapa suffered a cardiac arrest early on Wednesday at the Indian UN battalion headquarters.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 10:30 IST

An Indian UN peacekeeper died from cardiac arrest after he had to wait to be flown from the tense Ethiopian-Eritrean border to Addis Ababa.

Eritrea has banned UN helicopter flights.

Lance Corporal Ramesh Annapa, of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), suffered a cardiac arrest early on Wednesday at the Indian UN battalion headquarters.

Annapa was subsequently flown to Addis Ababa where he died soon after arrival at the hospital, it said.

"It is pertinent to note that this soldier could have been evacuated to Asmara, Eritrea in a much shorter time frame (45 to 50 minutes) since a helicopter was available at the battalion headquarters in Adigrat," the UN said.

"However since this could not be done, due to the continued helicopter ban by Eritrean authorities, an aircraft had to be flown from Addis Ababa to Mekele to evacuate the soldier, which led to an avoidable delay of nearly four hours," it added.

UNMEE, which has monitored the Eritrea-Ethiopia frontier since a 2000 peace deal ended a bloody two-year border war between the two Horn of Africa archrivals, has 3,000 troops mostly from India and Jordan, and several hundred civilian personnel.

Since October, it has come under increasing pressure from Eritrea, which has banned UNMEE helicopter flights, imposed restrictions on ground patrols and then expelled its North American and European staff.

Those curbs are widely seen as angry reactions to Eritrea's belief that the world community has not done enough to press Ethiopia to accept a binding 2002 border demarcation that emanated from the peace pact.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 10:30 IST