Helicopter carrying Indian defence chief crashes, 5 dead
Published : Wednesday, 8 December, 2021 at 5:16 PM Count : 810
A military helicopter carrying Indian defence chief General Bipin Rawat crashed at Coonoor in Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, killing five on the spot, report agencies.
Local media said Rawat, who is India's Chief of Defence Staff, was accompanied by other officials when the chopper crashed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
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.
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.