Taiwan’s top army delegate was amongst eight individuals killed on Thursday after a helicopter carrying them to visit troopers fell in a mountainous area close to the capital Taipei, the defense ministry mentioned.
The main port of the helicopter lay in a northern forest wreathed in cloud, its blades broke, as dozens of rescuers scoured the ruins for survivors, pictures published by emergency authorities confirmed.
The reasons for the accident, in the wake of a compelled landing, had been unknown, the army stated in an announcement, adding that the head of general staff, General Shen Yi-Ming, had died, while five of the 13 occupants survived.
Shen, who took up his position in July, was Taiwan’s top-ranking general to die in the line of duty, President Tsai Ing-wen stated, adding that she had requested the defense minister to launch a probe.
The defense ministry stated it had sent a rescue team following the Black Hawk helicopter’s collusion in New Taipei City after aviation authorities lost connection with the craft at 8:07 a.m.
The accident, which comes a week before democratic Taiwan holds presidential and parliamentary elections on January 11, disturbed campaign events.
Tsai, who’s seeking re-election, canceled all campaign activities till Saturday, while opposition presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang party referred to as off campaigns until Friday.
The helicopter involved in Thursday’s accident was one of 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters the U.S. sold to Taiwan in 2010, the official Central News Company said.
Although the U.S. has no formal diplomatic connections with Taiwan, it’s the island’s strongest international supporter and major arms supplier.