Gen. Bipin Rawat among casualties, another senior defense official currently being treated at military hospital, says Air Force.
NEW DELHI (AA) – Indian Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat and his wife are among the 13 people who died in a helicopter crash in southern Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, the Indian Air Force said.
According to the Air Force, Rawat was en route to Defense Services Staff College, Wellington in Tamil Nadu to address the faculty and student officers, and the incident happened near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.
“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,” the 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.”
It is that one senior defense official is currently being treated at Wellington’s military hospital.
Earlier the Air Force said on Twitter: “An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.”
Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, who is expected to brief parliament on Thursday, also visited Rawat’s residence in the capital New Delhi.
Video footage on Indian news channels earlier Wednesday showed rescue workers dousing the chopper’s wreckage in a forested area.
Rawat was appointed India’s first chief of defense staff in 2019, a position established for coordination between the country’s three armed services – the army, navy, and air force.