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Helicopter with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, 13 others on board crashes in Tamil Nadu

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An air force helicopter with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 13 others on board which crashed today in Tamil Nadu

An air force helicopter with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 13 others on board crashed today in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force has confirmed.

Thirteen people have died in the crash and one male survivor being treated in a military hospital nearby is in an extremely critical condition due to severe burns.

There is no official announcement on General Bipin Rawat's condition.

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."

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 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.

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

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

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

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