Tsai halts campaign for 3 days after Black Hawk crash claims Taiwan's top general

Taiwan president halts campaign for 3 days, calls for flags to be flown at half staff after top general killed in Black Hawk crash

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President Tsai Ing-wen.

President Tsai Ing-wen. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After news broke on Thursday afternoon (Jan. 2) that Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴) and seven other military officers had died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash that day, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced a three-day halt to her campaign, and her main rival has announced some cancellations as well.

On Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of National Defense (MND announced that Shen was among eight high-ranking military officials who had perished in the crash of an Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter in the mountains of New Taipei City's Wulai District.

As Shen was the highest-ranking general in Taiwan's history to die while on duty, Tsai announced that she will suspend her campaign from Jan. 2 to Jan 4. She also said that flags at all military installations would be flown at half-mast during this period, reported CNA.

Later that day, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also issued a statement saying that it was greatly saddened by the loss of the "pillars of the country" in the crash. DPP Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) announced that the whole party will suspend its election campaign and related itinerary for three days starting Jan. 2.

In addition, Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu (陳菊) on Facebook also announced that she had canceled her official and supplementary election campaign trips scheduled for the afternoon and evening and returned to the Presidential Office Building. Chen wrote: "Every brother of the Army is the most important talent in Taiwan. Today's accident is heartbreaking. I hope everyone can pray together."

For his part, the campaign office for Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) announced that he was very saddened by the loss of the "eight outstanding Army brothers" and the "brave Chief of the General Staff." Han's camp announced that he had canceled a video interview that had been scheduled for Thursday and a public trip slated for Friday.

Han's running mate Simon Chang (張善政) also canceled a campaign event scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Chang expressed his hope that government teams could devote themselves to rescue work and clarifying the cause of the accident.