Two Taiwanese marines have died and a third is on life support during a drill exercise simulating a Chinese invasion.
The rubber assault craft capsized in strong waves when the island nation’s elite fighters prepped their annual show of military might.
The annual Han Kuang, or Chinese Glory war games take place each summer to test the military’s combat readiness.
The island’s annual war games are deployed in face of mounting concern over China’s military prowess in the region.
Private First Class Tsai Po-yu, 26, and Staff Sergeant Chen Chih-jung, 29, were declared dead after family members chose to take them off life support on Sunday, a local hospital reported.
They were among seven members of the Taiwan Marine Corps’ 99th Brigade who plunged into the sea when their landing craft was hit by strong waves during the live-fire drill off Taoziyuan beach near the port city of Kaohsiung on July 3.
Four “frogmen” with the Amphibious Reconnaissance and Patrol Unit – Taiwan’s equivalent of the US Navy Seals – were sent to the Zuoying Branch of the Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital and found to have fluid in their lungs.
A 34-year-old sergeant remains on life support while the fourth serviceman was not in life-threatening condition, the facility reported.
According to the Taiwan Navy, the drill turned to tragedy during preparations for the self-ruled island’s major Han Kuang live-fire military exercises.
The craft carrying seven was simulating a beach landing by foreign troops.
This year’s annual exercise is scheduled to take place between July 13 and 17.
Both the navy and Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen have sent their condolences to the servicemen’s families, who will be compensated by the island defence ministry.
At a press conference on Monday retired army general and Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa said he would not be looking to pin blame on any one individual, but rather learn how similar tragedies could be avoided in the future.
Mr Yen said: “The armed forces would never forsake military exercises or lower training standards because of risk.”
The landing drill tragedy claimed a third life yesterday after a supervising officer was found dead in his quarters in an apparent suicide over the fatal accident, the navy revealed yesterday.
Lieutenant Commander Yang left no suicide note, but the navy said it has launched an investigation into his death.
Last week the Asian superpower released a video of its soldiers using high-tech handheld coil guns that launch bullets with electromagnetic propulsion rather than gunpowder.