Two soldiers fighting for life drank antifreeze substance thinking it was booze

11 soldiers who fell seriously ill after they ingested an "unknown substance" during a field training exercise believed they were drinking alcohol, the US Army has said.

Two soldiers are still fighting for their lives in hospital after suffering from ethylene glycol poisoning.

Ethylene glycol is commonly found in antifreeze, among other products.

The US soldiers from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, were completing a 10-day field training exercise when the incident occurred on Thursday, the Army's public affairs office said in a statement.

The hospitalised soldiers include one warrant officer, two non-commissioned officers and eight enlisted service members, the Army said.

A statement issued by Fort Bliss said: "On January 28, eleven Fort Bliss Soldiers were injured after ingesting an unknown substance during a field training exercise.

"Initial reports indicate Soldiers consumed this substance, thinking they were drinking an alcoholic beverage.

"Army and Fort Bliss regulations prohibit the consumption of alcohol in a field training environment. Initial toxicology results indicate the Soldiers are experiencing ethylene glycol poisoning.

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"All eleven Soldiers are assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command. This is an active-duty unit stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas."

A criminal investigation has now been launched by the US Army Criminal Investigation Command to look into the incident.

The statement added: "This incident occurred on the final day of a ten-day field exercise at Fort Bliss’s McGregor Range Complex. The affected Soldiers reported with symptoms to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center between the hours of 7am and 1pm on January 28.

"As of this update, all injured personnel remain at William Beaumont Army Medical Center. Two Soldiers remain seriously ill and are admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Nine Soldiers remain admitted to the non-critical care ward, under observation and close lab monitoring.

"Our primary concern remains the well-being of our Soldiers, our Families, and the unit. Our teammates are receiving the best medical resources available. Unit and installation chaplains are attending to those in need.

"The circumstances of how the Soldiers ingested the substance are under investigation by the US Army Criminal Investigation Command. There is no reason to believe there is any threat to the greater Fort Bliss community.

"The Fort Bliss senior commander has also directed an administrative investigation to determine the facts and circumstances that led to yesterday’s events."

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