Three Taiwanese soldiers were killed in an army drill a week before the annual Han Kuang military exercise aimed at preparing the island from any potential attack by the People’s Liberation Army of China.
According to the army, a CM-11 tank fell off a bridge in southern Pingtung County and plunged into the Wangsha River as it was returning to base from a training session on Tuesday morning, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
It was suspected that the tank had a mechanical failure, and the heavy rain caused to river to swell and rapidly engulf the tank.
The tank driver escaped with only minor injuries, but the other four members of the crew, including the commander with the rank of first lieutenant, were trapped inside.
They were pulled out of the tank about one hour after the accident and rushed to a nearby hospital.
The three soldiers were later pronounced dead while the commander remained in a coma.
The driver passed an alcohol test.
An army statement said the three soldiers died of drowning after suffering serious head injuries.
President Tsai Ing-wen sent her condolences to the families of the victims and ordered a speedy investigation.
She is expected to open the military exercise on Aug. 25.
Three deadly accidents related to the annual military exercise, including the latest one, have been reported over the past 32 years, the newspaper said.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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