Helicopter carrying Indian defence chief crashes, 13 dead
Published : Wednesday, 8 December, 2021 at 6:22 PM Count : 598
A military helicopter carrying Indian defence chief General Bipin Rawat crashed at Coonoor in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, killing 13 on the spot, report agencies.
Local media said Rawat, who is India's Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), was accompanied by other officials when the chopper crashed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Quoting sources, news agency ANI says that 13 of the 14 personnel involved in the IAF chopper crash in Tamil Nadu have been confirmed dead. Identities of the bodies to be confirmed through DNA testing.
Indian Prime Minister-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was scheduled to meet in the evening to discuss the situation arising out of the crash of a military helicopter with chief of defence staff Gen Bipin Rawat and several other officers on board on Wednesday near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. The meeting would be attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh and home minister Amit Shah, among others, reports PTI.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, "CDS General Bipin Rawat has been taken to hospital for treatment."
According to reports, General Rawat's wife, Defence Assistant, security commandos and Indian Air Force personnel were also among 14 people on board.
The chopper was flying from Sulur Airbase to to the Defence Staff Services College in Wellington in the Nilgiris.
Three officials have been rescued so far while a search is on for the fourth person, an official said. The injured have been taken to Wellington cantonment in Nilgiris.
Indian Army chief General MM Naravane briefed defence minister Rajnath Singh over the crash of the military chopper in Tamil Nadu.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh also went to the residence of CDS Bipin Rawat.
The Indian Air Force issued a statement confirming the crash and the presence of CDS Rawat on board. "An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident," the IAF said.
The crash took place in the Nilgiris shortly after the Russian-made Mi-17 V5 chopper took off from the Air Force base in Sulur in Coimbatore for the Defence Staff Services College in Wellington.
The crash was first reported around 12.20 pm. The defence establishment learnt of the incident from villagers who had informed the district administration.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh is likely to brief Parliament on the chopper crash on Thursday.
Visuals showed the wreckage scattered on the hillside and rescuers at work, struggling through thick smoke and fire and uprooted trees. Bodies were taken away by locals and policemen.
General Rawat, 63, took charge as India's first Chief of Defence Staff in January 2019. The position was set up with the aim of integrating India's three services - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
He was later also appointed the head of the newly-created Department of Military Affairs.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh will brief Parliament on the army chopper crash, a report said.