Tsai visits hospitalized marines, wishes them swift recovery

07/06/2020 06:41 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen (front, center)
President Tsai Ing-wen (front, center)

Kaohsiung/Taipei, July 5 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday visited two hospitalized Marine Corps soldiers rescued after their raiding vessel overturned during a military exercise in waters off Kaohsiung Friday in an incident that left two dead and two injured.

During a visit to the Zuoying Branch of the Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital, the president said the two hospitalized include one male sergeant who is in relatively critical condition and has been on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine since being rescued.

According to the president, the 31-year-old sergeant is breathing with the assistance of ECMO support.

She promised the sergeant's family that the country will make sure he receives best medical care while wishing him a swift recovery.

Meanwhile, the second hospitalized marine, 24-year-old female sergeant Chen Jo-ying (陳若盈) is in a stable condition with a minor lung infection, President Tsai said.

The president also visited the family of Private First Class Tsai Po-yu (蔡博宇) and Staff Sergeant Chen Chih-jung (陳志榮), who passed away Sunday after Friday's incident.

The president expressed condolences over their loss and promised that the military will take care of the families.

Tsai also said that the military is conducting a thorough probe into the drill to determine what went wrong and ensure it does not happen again.

The incident occurred on Friday morning when a raiding craft with seven marines on board overturned off the Kaohsiung coast during an exercise that was a rehearsal for the Han Kuang exercises to be staged later this month.

All seven soldiers on board were rescued, but four were hospitalized, three with pulmonary edemas, a condition caused by an abnormal amount of fluid in the lungs, according to the Navy.

Also Sunday, one of the drill supervisors, Navy Lieutenant Commander Yang (楊), committed suicide. Although no suicide note was found, the Navy said Yang could have killed himself because of the fatal drill.

Meanwhile, in Taipei, Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said Monday that a thorough probe over Friday's incident was not intended to apportion blame but rather to identify the reason for what happened to prevent any re-occurrence.

Speaking during a meeting with senior military officials, Yen expressed condolences over the death of Private First Class Tsai Po-yu and Staff Sergeant Chen Chih-jung.

Calling the two marines "national heroes" while praising the sacrifice they made for the country, Yen urged all Marine Corps members to fulfill their unfinished mission during the official drill to be staged from July 13-17 as part of the live-fire part of the annual war game.

Despite the fatal incident, the defense chief said the nation's Armed Forces will not suspend training sessions or lower their standards in such training simply because of the high risk.

"Servicemen and women shoulder huge responsibility in protecting the country and only through such training in realistic war-like scenarios can they accumulate the required experience and boost combat readiness," the minister stressed.

(By Hou Wen-ting, Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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