New Delhi: An IAF helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other Defence officials crashed in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor on Wednesday, leading to the death of the CDS and 12 others. Group Captain Varun Singh, injured in the crash, is currently under treatment at Military Hospital in Wellington. The Mi-17V-5 transport helicopter, carrying 14 persons, crashed reportedly due to low visibility due to foggy conditions. However, the exact cause behind the crash is yet to be ascertained.
Eyewitnesses Raja and Mani, who were also among the responders, shared what they saw when they first arrived. “We were the first ones to arrive. We saw the bodies burning. We picked up two bodies. The Army officers came later. The officials also picked up one body,” said Raja.
“It’s a very difficult terrain,” said the other eyewitness, Mani.
Announcing the demise of Gen Rawat and 12 others, the Indian Air Force said, “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.”
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.
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.