13 dead after Army helicopter carrying defence chief Bipin Rawat crashes

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By Express News Service

COIMBATORE: Thirteen of the 14 people on board an Army helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat have been killed after a tragic crash near Coonoor in the hilly Nilgiris district on Wednesday, according to news agency ANI.

One person is being treated but with critical injuries.

TN Forest Minister K Ramachandran had earlier told The New Indian Express that 11 of the 14 persons had been killed in the accident.

The Minister said the accident took place because of thick mist engulfing the area. 

Fire Service personnel and local people were helping in the rescue operations but as the site of the accident is narrow, they were finding it difficult to move about in large numbers, Ramachandran had said. 

The 14 included General Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat, Brig LS Lidder, Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja and Havaldar Satpal, according to sources.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the crash. He also paid a visit to General Rawat’s residence. The Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari has been asked to head to the accident site.

The Defence Minister is expected to brief parliament about the accident on Thursday.

The chopper was on its way from the Sulur IAF base to the Defence Services College (DSC) at Wellington when it crashed.

General Bipin Rawat, the first Chief of Defence Staff, is an alumnus of St. Edward School, Shimla and the National Defence Academy. He assumed office as the Chief of the Army Staff on 31 Dec 2016 and was elevated to his current role on January 1, 2020.

General Rawat had boarded an Embraer jet at Delhi at 8:47 am, and landed at Sulur at 11:34 am. He then got on board the MI 17 V5 helicopter at 11:48 am. At 12:22 pm, Air Traffic Control said contact had been lost, according to sources. The Chief of Defence Staff was slated to deliver a lecture at the Staff College.

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