Taiwan’s top military official was among eight people killed on Thursday after the helicopter carrying them made a forced landing in a mountainous area near the capital Taipei, the defense ministry said.
The helicopter had left Taipei on a mission to visit soldiers in the northeast county of Yilan head of Lunar New Year at month-end.
The incident comes a week before democratic Taiwan holds presidential and parliamentary elections on January 11.
President Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking re-election, cancelled all campaign activities until Saturday, and urged authorities to make every effort at rescue. She is scheduled to deliver a speech at 3 pm.
The United States, which has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is its strongest international backer and main arms supplier, sold the island 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters in 2010.
It was not immediately clear if the helicopter in Thursday’s incident was one of them, however.