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Military exercises to proceed as planned despite 2 disasters

TAIPEI--The military will hold its annual Han Kuang series of exercises in mid-September as scheduled, practicing emergency landings of its fighter jets on a freeway, among other drills, a defense official said Sunday.

The second stage of the Han Kuang exercises, scheduled for Sept. 15-19, will follow computer-aided war games in May, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he told CNA.

He said the exercises will be carried out as planned and will not be affected by two recent fatal incidents in Taiwan -a passenger plane crash in the outlying island county of Penghu and a series of deadly gas explosions in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Forty-eight people died in the plane crash on July 23, while 30 were killed in the underground gas explosions on July 31.

In a symbol of mourning for the victims of the two incidents, the military has canceled the opening of its Air Force Academy in Kaohsiung's Gangshan District, which was scheduled for Aug. 30.

Luo said, however, that the Air Force emergency landing drill on Sept. 16 will be held as scheduled on the Minsyong section of the No. 1 National Freeway in the southern county of Chiayi as part of the “Han Kuang No. 30” exercises.

The freeway section is one of four that has been designated for use as emergency runways in the event of war.

The annual Han Kuang exercises, Taiwan's most important war games, involve the Air Force, Navy and Army.

Meanwhile, hundreds of military personnel have been engaged in the relief and recovery efforts at the Kaohsiung disaster site and have also been assisting people in areas of the city affected by weekend floods caused by torrential rain, according to Luo.

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