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Seriously wounded sergeants in ammunition depot explosion stable

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President Tsai Ing-wen (second left) visits injured servicemen at the Tri-Service General Hospital on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Military News Agency

The conditions of the two servicemen who were most seriously injured in an explosion at a Keelung military ammunition depot Monday have stabilized following emergency surgeries, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Tuesday.

A staff sergeant surnamed Hung (洪) has since been transferred from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Keelung where he first was operated on to the military-run Tri-Service General Hospital in Neihu District in Taipei for follow-up care, the MND said in a statement.

The explosion that seriously injured Hung and eight others occurred at around 3 p.m. at the Hsiang Feng military base in Keelung when servicemen were inspecting 120-millimeter mortar rounds, the MND said, adding that the cause of the explosion is under investigation.

The base serves as an ammunition depot for the Sixth Army Corps, which is responsible for protecting northern Taiwan.

Hung, 35, had his right thigh and left arm severely disfigured in the accident and arrived at the hospital without vital signs but was successfully revived, according to Keelung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

Another soldier seriously injured in the blast was a 34-year-old sergeant surnamed Yin (尹), who suffered second- and third-degree burns on his arms and face and extensive damage to his left arm.

Yin was also transferred to Tri-Service General Hospital after receiving emergency treatment in Keelung.

Seven others suffered from minor injuries and are also now being monitored at the Neihu military hospital.

The hospital's deputy superintendent Tsai Yi-ting (蔡宜廷) told reporters that Hung and Yi's conditions have stabilized while the other seven were in good condition.

Given that both Hung and Yin suffered serious injuries to their hands and other body parts, however, they will likely face a long rehabilitation process on the way to recovery, Tsai said.

According to the MND, the incident occurred when the group of military personnel were sorting through and inspecting old 120-millimeter mortar rounds previously shipped back to Taiwan from the offshore island of Matsu to determine which ones could still be used.

The incident had nothing to do with the ongoing five-day live-fire portion of the Han Kuang series of exercises, the nation's largest scale military drills involving all military branches, the MND said.

An ad hoc investigative committee has since been established to probe the cause of the explosion, it said.

Meanwhile, early Tuesday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited Hung and others injured in Monday's blast at the Tri-Service General Hospital.

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