Taiwan’s two main leadership candidates said Thursday they would temporarily suspend their election campaigns after the head of the island’s armed forces and seven other people died in a helicopter crash.
Shen Yi-ming, an air force general and chief of the general staff, perished when a Black Hawk helicopter made an emergency landing on a mountainside southeast of the capital, Taipei, on the way to meet members of the military in the northeastern county of Yilan. The seven other fatalities also included high-ranking defense personnel.
A total of 13 people, comprising 10 military officials and three crew members, were on board the aircraft at the time of the crash. Five were rescued alive, Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Taiwan’s military had not confirmed the cause of the crash by the time of publication.
The incident comes as Taiwan prepares to go to the polls on Jan. 11 to decide who will lead the island for the next four years. Incumbent leader Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking a second term, said in the wake of the crash that she would suspend all campaigning through Saturday. Her key challenger, Han Guo-yu of the Kuomintang, said he would cancel all public appearances on Friday.
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