India’s top military officer, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, died in a helicopter accident on Wednesday. The accident claimed 12 other lives, including that of his wife Madhulika Rawat .
The Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, crashed around noon Indian Standard Time (IST) near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, in South India.
The sole survivor of the crash is an IAF pilot, Group Captain Varun Singh, Directing Staff at Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington. Singh is injured and currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington.
General Rawat was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) were he was to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today.
The IAF Mi 17 V5 helicopter, with a crew of 4 members, was carrying the CDS, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 8 other passengers.
Visuals emerging from the crash site show what appears to be a high intensity crash into a hill with only the tail boom of the helicopter largely intact.
The air force has ordered an inquiry to ascertain the cause of the accident.
General Bipin Rawat assumed office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in January 2020 and also headed the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). He was also Ex-Chief of the Army Staff.
The IAF operates approximately 150 Mi-17 V5 helicopters and first ordered the type in 2008.
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