Taiwan’s top military official was among eight persons killed on Thursday, when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into mountains in the north of the island.
General Shen Yi-ming, 62, Taiwan military’s chief of general staff, was travelling to visit troops when the UH-60M helicopter disappeared from radar near New Taipei City, while carrying 13 people, including the crew.
Shen was confirmed dead along with seven other people on board, Lt. General Hsiung Hou-chi, Taiwan’s air force told a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
He also said that five people survived the crash.
The helicopter lost contact with base 13 minutes after taking off at 8:07 a.m. local time, Hsiung also said.
He added that the helicopter’s condition was “not ideal,” and the ministry had set up a task force to investigate the cause of the incident.
Shen was initially found conscious by a search team from the New Taipei City fire department, and transported to a hospital, spokesman Chen Hao-feng said.
Shen, a graduate of Taiwan’s Air Force Academy in 1979, and the US Air War College in 2002, previously served as the island’s air force commander.
He took office as chief of general staff in July last year.
Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, suspended her election campaign for three days following the crash.
The crash comes ahead of the self-governing island’s general election on January 11.
Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, will face off against Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang Party, which has advocated for closer ties with mainland China.
Following the crash, Ing-wen’s campaign office announced she would suspend all electioneering for three days.
In a post on Facebook, she confirmed that she had arrived in Yilan county, near the crash site.
“Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming was an outstanding, competent general, as well as a chief loved and esteemed by everyone. His departure has left us with tremendous wistfulness and sorrow,” she wrote.