HAPPENING NOW!!! Tension As Chief Of Defence Staff Helicopter Crashes, 14 On Board
An army chopper carrying Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and 13 others crashed today in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force said.
Five bodies have been found from the crash site and four have been taken to hospital with severe burn injuries. More details are not known so far.
General Rawat’s wife, his Defence Assistant, security commandos and Indian Air Force personnel were reportedly among the 14 on board.
The Indian Air Force confirmed in a tweet that the Chief of Defence Staff was on the flight. He had taken a flight from Delhi to Sulur earlier today and that flight manifest had listed nine people.
“An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.”
The crash took place in the Nilgiris shortly after the Mi-series chopper took off from the army base in Sulur in Coimbatore.
The chopper was heading to the Defence Staff Services College in Wellington in the Nilgiris.
The crash was first reported around 12.20 pm. The defence establishment learnt of the incident from villagers of Katteri who informed the district administration.
Visuals showed the wreckage scattered on a steep hillside and rescuers at work, struggling through thick smoke and fire and uprooted trees. Charred bodies were pulled out by locals and policemen.
General Rawat, 63, took charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff in January 2019. The position was set up with the aim of integrating the three services – the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The “CDS” is the pivot of the modernisation of the defence forces.
He was later also appointed the head of the newly-created Department of Military Affairs.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will brief parliament about the crash.