Search and rescue teams tending to the site of the crash (Picture: Reuters).

Taiwan's Top Military Officer Among Those Killed In Helicopter Crash

Eight were killed after a Blackhawk aircraft crashed in mountains near capital Taipei.

Search and rescue teams tending to the site of the crash (Picture: Reuters).

Taiwan's top military official has died in an air force helicopter crash that killed seven other people.

As Chief of the General Staff, General Shen Yi-ming oversaw the island's defence against Chinese threats to use military force to annex what it considers its own territory.

The UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter was flying from Taipei to the north-eastern city of Ilan when it crashed for unknown reasons.

The country's defence ministry said five people survived the crash in mountains outside its capital city Taipei.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence, 13 people were on board for take-off shortly after 07.50 am local time from Taipei's Songshan air force base - en route to a base in Yilan county on the east coast.

Just over 10 minutes later, it dropped from the radar screen and went down in the mountainous, heavily forested Wulai area south-east of the Taipei.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the "emergency landing" crash in the north of the country in a statement released on Twitter.

General Shen Yi-ming had taken over as Chief of the General Staff in July 2019 after serving as commander of the Taiwan Air Force.

Alexander Huang, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan, said he had stood out as a pilot and an 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," Mr Huang said.

"Of course, reasonable people would think in the direction of mechanical failure or maintenance problem, but without proof you can't say anything."

Areas of the Taiwanese military will fly their respective flags at half-mast as a sign of respect and mourning, by order of the defence ministry.

The five survivors were said to have been rescued by military-assisted search and rescue teams from the local fire department.

The ministry have launched a special investigation in an effort to find out what caused the fatal crash.

Cover image: Search and rescue teams tending to the site of the crash (Picture: Reuters).