In what can be termed as a monumental loss to the nation, the Indian Air Force has confirmed that Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has died in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu.General Rawat was on his way from the Sulur IAF Station to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington in Coonoor when the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter in which he was travelling crashed in a forested area in the Niligris district around 12:20 pm.
“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,” an official communique from IAF read. The readout also said Group Captain Varun Singh with injuries is currently under treatment at a military hospital in Wellington.
The mortal remains of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and his wife along with other Armed Forces personnel killed in the chopper crash expected to arrive in Delhi by evening tomorrow.
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.
“I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.” tweeted PM Modi.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too expressed his sadness over the incident when he tweeted the following confirming Gen Rawat’s death, “Deeply anguished by the sudden demise of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other Armed Forces personnel in an extremely unfortunate helicopter accident today in Tamil Nadu. His untimely death is an irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country.”
The passengers were CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, Brig LS Lidder, Lt Col Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kr, L/Naik Vivek Kumar, L/Naik B Sai Teja & Hav Satpal, ANI tweeted.
The accident spot was said to be covered in thick mist. The mishap reportedly happened due to low visibility caused by foggy conditions. Some visuals show the chopper in flames.
Rawat, 63, was India’s first chief of defence staff, an office set up in 2019 to improve coordination between the army, navy and air force.