The five foreign military drowning victims of raging Missouri flood waters last weekend were all officers – two from Egypt, and one each from Algeria, Jordan and Malaysia, the Army said Wednesday.
A statement from the Army's Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where the five were in a training program, identified them as Maj. Mohammad Hassan Ibrahim, 32, of Egypt; Maj. Akram Abu Al-rub, 38, of Jordan; Capt. Ahmed Moussouni, 32, of Algeria; and Capt. Ahmed Abdelghani, 29, Egypt.
The five were assigned to the International Student Detachment at the base and were returning from a holiday shopping trip to Osage Beach, Mo., when their Chevrolet sedan went off the road at about 8 p.m. last Saturday at a low water crossing on Highway U near Crocker, Mo., about 15 miles northwest of Fort Leonard Wood in south-central Missouri, the Army and local authorities said.
Four of the bodies were recovered Sunday and the fifth was found Tuesday about six miles downstream from the scene of the accident.
Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that "Some were recovered in the car and outside it. The last one was way down stream. It's just a very dark and rural highway, and I am sure they had no idea of what was ahead of them until they got into the water."
A Missouri State Highway Patrol officer spotted the body of the fifth victim about six miles from where the trainees' vehicle was swept away, Long said.
Missouri is one of several states in the central and southern U.S. that has been grappling with deadly floods following torrential rain storms in recent days.
There have been an estimated 49 weather-related deaths in the past week across the country, with the current severe storm system blamed for 35 deaths: 13 in Missouri, 11 in the Dallas area, five in southern Illinois, five in Oklahoma and at least one in Georgia. Many died after their cars were swept away by floodwater.
The State Department had withheld the release of the victims' names until their families could be notified.
International students at Fort Leonard Wood study alongside U.S. soldiers learning technical and tactical skills related to the service branches from which they come. The five victims had been attending officer education at Fort Leonard Wood's Maneuver Support Center of ERxcellence.
Cheryl Nygaard, a spokeswoman at Fort Leonard Wood, said soldiers from about 50 countries have trained in the International Student Detachment.
In a statement, the Army said "We are saddened by this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims. Our priority now is to provide care and support to those affected by this tragic event."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org