A Taiwanese navy patrol boat accidentally launched a supersonic anti-ship missile on Friday, killing a local fisherman, the military said.

The Hsiung Feng III missile struck waters off the Penghu Islands, in the the Taiwan Strait, around 8:40 am (0040 GMT), hitting a Taiwanese fishing boat operating nearby, according to the Ministry of National Defence.

The captain, surnamed Huang, was killed and three other fishermen were injured in the accident, National Defence spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi said in a news conference broadcast live nationwide.

"We're very sorry about that. We will do our best to compensate them," Chen said.

Chen said three fishermen left a hospital in southern Taiwan after receiving treatment.

The navy launched an investigation to determine what caused the incident.

"We've found that the crew did not follow standard operating procedure," said navy command headquarters Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mei Chia-shu.

The 500-ton patrol boat, called Chinchiang, was undergoing a drill inspection at Zuoying military base in southern Kaohsiung City when the missile was launched by mistake, Mei said.

The missile travelled for more than two minutes before falling into the waters, about 40 nautical miles northwest of the military harbour, Mei said.

"It did not cross the middle line of the Taiwan Strait," Mei said.

The Hsiung Feng III reportedly has a range of about 300 kilometres, the state-run Central News Agency reported.

Both Beijing and Taipei respect the virtual middle line in the Taiwan Strait, and the two sides do not cross the line with their respective warplanes or ships. The narrowest part of the strait is 130 kilometres (81 miles) wide.

Taiwan’s Navy has not obtained any information showing any special military deployments on the Chinese side, Mei said late Friday.

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