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Taiwan's Uniformed Military Chief Killed in Helicopter Crash

In this image made from video, emergency teams work at the crash site of a military helicopter in the mountains of Yilan, north eastern Taiwan, Jan. 2, 2020.

Taiwan's top military officer was among eight people killed Thursday when their helicopter crashed in a mountainous area outside the capital, Taipei.

The defense ministry says the Blackhawk helicopter carrying Air Force General Shen Yi-ming, the chief of Taipei's general staff, and 12 others took off from an air base in Taipei early Thursday on a flight to visit soldiers at a base in northeast Yilan county. The helicopter disappeared from radar screens just minutes later.

Three major generals were also among those killed in the crash, while five others survived.

Wednesday's crash happened just nine days before Taiwan's presidential and parliamentary elections. A spokesperson for President Tsi Ing-wen said she will suspend her re-election campaign until Saturday.

Taiwan has purchased Blackhawk military helicopters from the United States for decades, including a 60 Blackhawks in 2010. Six people were killed in 2018 when a Blackhawk helicopter crashed off Taiwan's east coast.