Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said.
The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines.
They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit with pulmonary edema, a condition caused by an excessive amount of fluid in the lungs.
Photo screen grab from the Republic of China Navy’s Facebook page
Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital’s Zuoying branch confirmed that Tsai was declared dead 36 minutes past midnight after his family decided to cease resuscitation efforts.
The navy later yesterday said that Chen was declared dead at 6:29pm after his family decided to halt resuscitation efforts.
Navy Command extended its condolences to the families, and said that posthumous promotion, compensation and funeral assistance would be given to Tsai and Chen, and their families.
Speaking on the sidelines of an international forum in Taipei in the afternoon, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that she has ordered the Ministry of National Defense to launch a thorough investigation into the incident, provide the utmost care and support to the victims and their families, and strive to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again.
Meanwhile, a navy officer who was among the supervisors of the anti-landing exercise has died in an apparent suicide, the military said yesterday.
Navy Lieutenant Commander Yang (楊) was found hanging by the neck in his room at the Kaohsiung Zuoying naval base hours after marine Tsai’s death, the navy said in a news release, without giving Yang’s full name.
Yang was rushed to hospital, but efforts to resuscitate him failed, the navy said.
He was a member of the navy’s Education, Training and Doctrine Development Command, it said.
It extended its condolences to Yang’s family and said it would offer them funeral assistance.
Navy Command Political Warfare Director Chang Chun-yi (張存義) said that prosecutors have ruled out foul play in Yang’s death, based on a postmortem report by medical examiners.
No suicide note has been found, and the military would not speculate on whether Yang’s death was related to the fatal boat accident, he said, adding that it is working with prosecutors to find out why Yang committed suicide.
The initial findings of an investigation into Friday’s incident show that it was caused by an unexpected surge of waves, Navy Command said in a news release yesterday.
The Marine Corps during the drill used combat rubber raiding craft that each weigh 146kg, and the marines’ outfits weighed more than 10kg and included a combat uniform, a lifesaver, military boots and a rifle, local media reported.
Records show that most accidents involving marines were related to armored amphibious vehicles, making the latest incident the first major one involving a rubber craft.
The accident raised the questions whether the marines were struck by the boat and rendered unconscious after falling overboard, whether they were trapped under it, or whether the raft itself was problematic.
Military officials said an investigation into the incident continues and a report would be released soon to shed more light on it.
Additional reporting by Lin Hui-chin and Aaron Tu
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