An Air Force chopper Mi-17V5 carrying Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 13 others on board met with an accident near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, killing the defence chief and 12 others. The sole survivor of the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh, who has suffered 80% burns, is currently undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital in Wellington in the Nilgiris.
The Indian Air Force said in a tweet, "With deep regret, it is now ascertained that CDS General Bipin Rawat, Mrs. Madhulika Rawat, and 11 other people on board have died in an unfortunate accident."
An inquiry has been set up by the IAF regarding the helicopter crash. The crash happened at a 10km distance from the helipad where it was to land in the next 10 minutes, the cause of which is still unknown. One reason for the crash could be bad weather.
The chopper took off from Sulur Airbase in Coimbatore district at 11:48 a.m. and, as per sources, it was reported missing at 12:22 p.m. on Wednesday. As per the statements of eyewitnesses, the sky was covered with mist, thus decreasing visibility. Behind the mist, they could see a helicopter in flames crashing down.
The mortal remains of the Chief of Defence and his wife, along with other armed personnel, are expected to arrive in Delhi by Thursday evening.
In a meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Rajnath Singh, home minister Amit Shah, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and other members of the cabinet were informed about the crash.
Several former army chiefs and CMs of several states have expressed their grief in response to the accident.
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