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Friday, March 15, 2013
Soldier dies from heat in Israel

Associated Press

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli soldier died of a heat stroke Friday after completing a half-marathon in Tel Aviv, prompting Israel's minister of public security to criticize organizers for allowing the race to take place during a heat wave.

The soldier collapsed and was rushed to a hospital, but medics were unable to resuscitate him, said rescue services spokesman Zaki Heller. The race was run in temperatures around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The military identified the dead soldier as Sgt. Michael Michalevitch, 29, who served in the military's canine special forces.

Four other runners who collapsed from the heat were put in medically induced comas and are on respirators at a Tel Aviv hospital, Heller said. In total, medics treated more than 50 runners at the race, he said.

Yitzhak Aharonovich, Israel's public security minister, said on Israel Radio that the incident was "very serious" and suggested that race organizers could be held responsible for not canceling the race after heat was predicted.

The Tel Aviv municipality expressed regret over the death of the runner but defended its actions, saying it had followed the instructions of health officials. It postponed the full marathon of 26.2 miles initially scheduled for Friday in anticipation of the heat wave, and started the half-marathon of 13.1 miles earlier in the morning to avoid the hottest temperatures.

The municipality said in a statement that when the runner died, Israel's national weather service had reported only a light heat wave.