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3 people mistakenly eat laundry detergent in Taiwan election giveaway gone awry

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — At least three people were hospitalized after mistakenly eating colorful pods of liquid laundry detergent that were distributed as a campaign freebie in Taiwan’s presidential race, according to Taiwanese media reports.

One of the victims said she thought the pods were candy, the Central News Agency reported.

The pods came in partially clear packaging with photos of Nationalist Party candidate Hou Yu-ih and his running mate. Writing on the bag says “Vote for No. 3,” the place on the ballot for the Nationalist ticket in the three-way race, and that each pod can wash up to eight kilograms (18 pounds) of clothes.

A Nationalist campaign office gave out about 460,000 pods. Hung Jung-chang, head of the office in central Taiwan, apologized for the incident, the news agency said.

“In the next wave of house-to-house visits, we will not distribute this kind of campaign material,” Hung said in a video aired on SET iNews. “We will also stress to our villagers through our grassroots organizations that they are laundry balls, not candies.”

Those hospitalized included an 80-year-old man and an 86-year-old woman who were released after having their stomachs flushed, the news agency said. The Nationalist Party is also known by its Chinese name, Kuomintang, or KMT.

Hou is running against William Lai of the governing Democratic Progressive Party and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party in Saturday’s election. The vote is being closely watched in both Beijing and Washington. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, while the U.S. sells arms to the self-governing island to defend against any attack.

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The Associated Press

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