Taiwan’s top military official was among eight people killed on Thursday when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in mountains in the north of the island.
Gen. Shen Yi-ming, 62, the Taiwan military’s chief of general staff, was en route 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. Gen. Hsiung Hou-chi of Taiwan’s air force told a news conference Thursday afternoon. Five people survived. The helicopter lost contact with base 13 minutes after taking off, at 8:07 a.m. local time, Hsiung said. He added 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 sent to the hospital, spokesman Chen Hao-Feng told CNN. 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. The crash comes ahead of the self-governing island’s general election on January 11. President Tsai 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.
For a few hours following the crash, the fate of Taiwan’s top general was unclear, with conflicting reports claiming that he was among the five people who survived, while another said he remained missing.
Five others have been rescued. “Five have survived while the other eight of our colleagues on board were killed. We are deeply saddened … and give our condolences to their families,” Air Force Commander Hsiung Hou-chi told reporters.