Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife, 11 others killed in IAF helicopter crash
New Delhi, December 8, 2021
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others were killed when an Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17V5 helicopter carrying them crashed near Coonoor in the misty Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu around noon today.
"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 on Twitter.
The IAF said there were 14 people on board the helicopter, including Gen Rawat, Mrs Rawat, eight other passengers and four members of crew when it crashed around noon.
"Gp Capt Varun Singh SC, Directing Staff at DSSC with injuries is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington," it said.
Gen Rawat was on a visit to the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in the Nilgiri Hills to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course this afternoon. He had flown in from Delhi this morning to the Sulur airbase at Coimbatore and was proceeding to Wellington when the chopper crashed a few minutes away from its destination.
"An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident," the IAF added.
The helicopter had burst into flames in the impact of the crash and television pictures the scene of the tragedy showed burning wreckage strewn over a large area.
Army and Air Force personnel, police and local administration officials rushed to the scene and were seen carrying out search and rescue efforts which local persons also joined.
Gen Rawat had taken over as India's first Chief of Defence Staff on January 1, 2020, a day after demitting office on retirement as Chief of the Army Staff.