Monday, 27 January, 2020

Top Taiwan military official killed after helicopter crash-landing

Taiwanese Deputy Defense Minister Shen Yi-ming salutes as he is introduced to journalists during a press conference in Taipei in March Taiwan's military chief missing after helicopter crash landing
Travis Berry | 03 January, 2020, 00:17

Taiwan media are reporting that a helicopter of the same type crashed two years ago, killing six people.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense says the Black Hawk helicopter went missing in New Taipei City shortly past 8 a.m. on Thursday.

Shen, 63, had taken over as chief of the general staff in July after serving as commander of Taiwan's air force, which is undergoing a substantial upgrade with the arrival of the most advanced version of the U.S. F-16V fighter.

Shen, 62, and several top military officials were on a routine mission to visit soldiers in the northeast Yilan county ahead of the lunar new year later this month.

Taiwan's official Central News Agency also confirmed General Shen's death.

Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen appears on track to win a second term over her more pro-China opponent, Han Kuo-yu of the main opposition Nationalists.

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The military said it is still searching for the injured and survivors.

"As commander-in-chief President Tsai and the cabinet team will focus on the rescue operations as well as clarifying the cause of the incident", it said in a statement. DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) announced that the whole party will suspend its public election campaign and related itinerary for three days starting Jan. 2.

The incident, which comes a week before democratic Taiwan holds presidential and parliamentary elections on January 11, disrupted campaign events.

"We are investigating whether (the cause) was environmental or mechanical", he said.

The ministry has dispatched ground troops and rescue helicopters to the crash site in northeastern Taiwan. The helicopter's pilot had reported on weather conditions before communication was abruptly lost, the South China Morning Post reported.

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