Indian military chief among 13 killed in helicopter crash

helicopter crashes, india

India‘s air force says an army helicopter carrying the country’s military chief Bipin Rawat has crashed in southern Tamil Nadu state. AP

The head of India’s armed forces, General Bipin Rawat, was among 13 people killed in a helicopter crash in southern India on Wednesday, air force officials said.

Rawat, 63, who was the first person to ever take on the role of commanding all of India’s military branches, died alongside his wife, Madhulika Rawat, the Air Force said.

“With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, (his wife) Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died,” officials said in a statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had appointed Rawat to become the country’s first Chief of Defense Staff in late 2019, said he was saddened by his death.

“A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernizing our armed forces and security apparatus,” the prime minister said.

helicopter crashes, india

The cause of the crash is unclear and further details about the other passengers killed in the crash have not been released.

AFP via Getty Images

Rawat, who had previously served as India’s Chief of Army Staff, had been traveling to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to deliver a lecture, officials said.

The helicopter crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu state after taking off from an Indian Air Force base in Sulur.

The lone survivor, Group Capt. Varun Singh, was being treated for his injuries at the Military Hospital in Wellington, officials said.

helicopter crashes, india

Firemen and rescue workers stand next to the debris of an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter crash site in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.

AFP via Getty Images

The cause of the crash is unclear and further details about the other passengers killed in the crash have not been released.

The Air Force said that the group was flying in an Mi-17V5 helicopter. India has dozens of Russian military choppers that are widely used by the military as well as top government ministers visiting defense locations.

helicopter crashes, india

Firemen are seen next to the debris of the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter.

AFP via Getty Images

helicopter crashes, india

Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat in 2019.


“This is a safe, proven helicopter, I have traveled on it in difficult situations,” former army chief J.J.Singh said.

Video footage from Reuters partner ANI and local media showed rescue workers dousing steaming wreckage of the mangled chopper in a wooded area.

“An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the Air Force said in a tweet.

With Post wires

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