General Shen Yi-ming, Taiwan’s chief of general staff, has died in an aviation accident along with seven more passengers. He and 12 others were aboard Black Hawk helicopter that made an emergency-crash landing in mountains outside the capital city Taipei. Five survivors were rescued shortly, country’s defence ministry said.
On Thursday, the helicopter started its journey from Taipei’s Songshan air force base at 7:50 am roughly, and was en route to a base in Yilan County on the east coast. Within 10 minutes of takeoff, the Black Hawk disappeared from the radar screen and crashed in the hilly, densely-forested Wulai region southeast of Taipei.
Though the cause of crash is still not known, but the pilots, none of whom survived, were reportedly highly experienced.
General Shen Yi-ming was appointed as chief of the general staff in July 2019, after holding the office as commander of Taiwan’s air force. He was charged with the responsibility of monitoring the island’s border security and defence against China, which threatens to militarily infiltrate Taiwan.
Alexander Huang, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan and a long-term cohort of General Shen since a decade, said he was an outstanding pilot and officer. “He was very calm and very stable and unlike other army guys he was always smiling, so he got a specific leadership style that also made him a popular leader in the entire military,” Huang said.
Black Hawks have been an integral part of Taiwan’s military operations for several decades, and in 2010 the country completed a deal for another 60 UH-60M Black Hawks from the United States worth $3.1 billion.
The sudden death of General Shen and other senior officials of the military has called for an immediate re-allotment of positions, having a negligible impact on Taiwan’s upcoming presidential elections.