New Delhi: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulikha Rawat and 11 others onboard the IAF helicopter that crashed in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor have died, the Indian Air Force confirmed on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Group Captain Varun Singh, injured in the crash, is currently under treatment at Military Hospital in Wellington. The helicopter, which was flying from Sulur Airbase to Wellington, hit a ridge line and crashed into the trees. The exact reason behind the crash is yet to be ascertained.
“With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident,” the Indian Air Force said. Gen Rawat was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today, the IAF said.
Giving the details of the incident, the IAF said, “Around noon today, an IAF Mi 17 V5 helicopter with a crew of 4 members carrying the CDS and 9 other passengers met with a tragic accident near Coonoor, TN.”
Mortal remains of CDS General Bipin Rawat and his wife along with other armed forces personnel killed in the chopper crash, are expected to arrive in Delhi by Thursday evening.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was closely monitoring the situation following the crash of IAF chopper. The minister reached the residence of the CDS officer to meet his family. Singh also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and will brief Parliament tomorrow.
As per ANI sources, bodies recovered from the site of the crash were taken to Military Hospital, Wellington in Tamil Nadu.
The helicopter was carrying nine passengers and five crew members. The passengers included General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier LS Lidder, Lt. Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja and Havaldar Satpal.
A team of doctors was rushed from Coimbatore to assist the Defence personnel.