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Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife & 11 others killed in helicopter crash

General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat who passed in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu today along with 11 other Armed Forces personnel

India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other defence forces personnel died in a tragic helicopter crash today in Tamil Nadu, the government announced late on Wednesday evening. 

One survivor is being treated in a military hospital nearby is in an extremely critical condition due to severe burns.

General Rawat’s Defence Assistant, security commandos and Indian Air Force personnel were among the 14 on board the ill-fated helicopter.

The crash took place in the Nilgiri hills as the Mi-series chopper that took off from the army base at Sulur in Coimbatore was flying to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington.

The helicopter was already making its descent and would have landed in another 10 more minutes had it not crashed. It came down around 10 km from the nearest road at around 12.20 pm. The defence authorities were informed about the crash by the district administration who came to know about the accident from the local villagers of Katteri.

Krishnaswamy, who was an eyewitness to the incident, told TV news channels:” "I first heard a loud noise. When I came outside to see what had happened, I saw the helicopter crash into a tree. There was a huge fireball and then it crashed into another tree. I saw two-three people coming out of the helicopter, they were completely burnt and started falling."

The Indian Air Force had earlier 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."

General Rawat, 63, took charge as India's first Chief of Defence Staff in January 2019 as new position that was created as part of the integration  of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force under a unified command.

The Prime Minister has convened an emergency meeting of the Cabinet committee on Security to take stock of the situation after the tragic accident. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to brief Parliament about the crash tomorrow.

Also read: What you need to know about the Mi-17V-5 helicopter that crashed with General Bipin Rawat on board