Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Kiwi loses both legs in Afghanistan explosion

A New Zealand soldier serving in the Australian Army has lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan, it has been reported.

Curtis Wain McGrath, 24, was one of four Australian soldiers blown up by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) during coalition supported Afghan National Security Force operations in Uruzgan Province last week.

The Queenstown-born combat engineer has been flown to a hospital in Germany for specialist treatment.

It is understood that Mr McGrath's parents, who live on the Gold Coast, have flown to join the former Wakatipu High pupil at his bedside.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) today refused to release any further details, saying it was policy not to release details of any soldiers wounded in action, or give details of injuries.

However, they confirmed that one "seriously wounded" soldier was treated at two medical facilities in Afghanistan and has since been transferred to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) Task Group, Lieutenant Colonel Trent Scott, said quick action by soldiers on the ground saved a comrade's life.

"The application of immediate medical assistance meant that a soldier's life was saved," Lieutenant Colonel Scott said.

"The training our soldiers receive in preparation for deployment, together with access to first-class medical support, meant that our wounded soldiers received the best possible care at the earliest opportunity.

"The soldiers had been working alongside their Afghan partners at the time of the incident. This is essential work as we transition to the Afghan security forces taking the lead on operations in the future.

"The thoughts of all members of Combined Team Uruzgan and 3 RAR Task Group are very much with the families and loved ones of those wounded in this incident."

The soldiers' next of kin have been informed and are receiving support from the ADF, a spokesman said.

The incident comes in a horror month for New Zealanders serving in Afghanistan.

Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, and Private Richard Harris, 21, received a full military farewell on Saturday at Burnham Military Camp, where they had all been based. They died in Bamiyan Province when their Humvee was blown up by a massive roadside bomb.

Just a fortnight earlier, on August 4, 26-year-old Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone were killed in an ambush.

- APNZ

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