Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Taiwan's top military official was one of eight people killed Thursday when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed into a mountainous region of the country, authorities said.
Gen. Shen Yi-ming, who serves as Taiwan's chief of general staff to the armed forces, was one of 13 people on board the helicopter when it crashed in the Wulai Mountain region near Taipei City, prompting ground search-and-rescue forces to the rush to the scene.
Shen and seven others were confirmed dead upon the rescue crews' arrival at the crash site, said Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Hsiung Hou-chi.
Five others on board the doomed aircraft survived, he said.
Hsiung said earlier Thursday that the UH-60M military helicopter disappeared from radar at 8:07 a.m. with the last record of communication concerning visibility and weather conditions occurring a minute before the signal was lost. Shen was on his way to visit troops ahead of the Chinese New Year later this month.
Two air ambulance helicopters and 91 troops participated in the rescue effort, Hsiung said.
"Chief of staff, who was killed in duty, was an excellent, capable general and loved chief," she said, adding she has directed the secretary of defense to investigate the cause of the crash and ordered all defense units to lower flags to half-staff for three days.