Three hospitalised after eating laundry pods during Taiwan election

Three people have reportedly been rushed to hospital after mistakenly eating laundry detergent pods.

The colourful pods were handed out for free during Taiwan’s presidential election campaign, with one victim sharing she accidentally mistook them as sweets, the Central News Agency reported.

The pods were wrapped in clear packaging which stated they can wash up to eight kilograms of clothes, and included images of Nationalist Party candidate Hou Yu-ih and his running mate.

“Vote for No. 3,” was also written on the package, referencing Mr Hou’s place on the ballot paper.

An 80-year-old man and an 86-year-old woman were among those hospitalised after ingesting the pods, of which 460,000 were distributed to voters.

The pair were later released after having their stomachs flushed, according to media reports.

Hung Jung-chang, the head of the Nationalist campaign office in central Taiwan, apologised for the incident, saying they will not give away pods in upcoming campaign visits.

“In the next wave of house-to-house visits, we will not distribute this kind of campaign material,” Mr Hung said in a video aired on SET iNews

“We will also stress to our villagers through our grassroots organisations that they are laundry balls, not candies.”

Taiwan’s three-way presidential election is just days away, with voters taking to the polls on Saturday to decide between Mr Hou, font-runner Lai Ching-te of the governing Democratic Progressive Party and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party.

The election will be closely watched from Beijing to Washington as voters choose a new leader to steer the self-ruled island in the face of an increasingly assertive Beijing.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, rejecting the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government’s stance that the island is “already independent”.

Taiwan issues alert over China satellite

Earlier this week, Taiwan island issued a national emergency alert as China launched a satellite days out from the election.

The alert on Tuesday came hours after Lai Ching-te accused Beijing of using “all means” to influence this weekend’s poll, which will set the course of cross-strait ties for the next four years.

Phones across Taiwan blared with a “presidential alert” at about 3:15pm (0715 GMT), around the time Beijing announced the successful launch of its Einstein Probe satellite, which it says will gather astronomical data.

“China launched (a) satellite which flew over the southern airspace,” said Taiwan’s alert in Chinese, urging the public to stay safe.

The English part of the message described it as an “air raid alert” warning of a “missile flyover Taiwan airspace”, but officials said this was a mistranslation.

The defence ministry later apologised for the mistake, saying the default message in English had not been updated.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu was giving a news conference about the elections when the alert message buzzed on mobile phones, interrupting his address.

He explained that the alert was issued because of possible falling “debris”. “When a rocket is openly flying in our sky, some of their tubes or debris will fall in this region,” Mr Wu told reporters.

He said the launch was part of a pattern of “grey zone” activities by Beijing aimed at intimidating Taiwan.

“With this kind of threat against Taiwan, I think we should be clear-eyed, we should not be provoked.”

– With AFP

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