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 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.
Following the crash, Tsai’s campaign office announced she would suspend all electioneering for three days.
Posting on Facebook on Thursday afternoon, Tsai said 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.