INDIA: The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife, Madhulika Rawat and 10 other armed forces personnel were killed and two others were injured when an Indian Air Force helicopter (IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter) carrying 14 persons, crashed at Coonoor in Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu in South on Wednesday.
“Deeply anguished by the sudden demise of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat 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,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.
A total of 14 people including, CDS Bipin Rawat, his wife, defence assistant, security commandos, were present in the chopper that crashed between Coimbatore and Sulur in Tamil Nadu. The chopper was on its way from the Sulur IAF base to the Defence Services College (DSC) at Wellington when it crashed. The mishap happened at the Nanjappanchathiram area amid the heavy mist, official sources said.
The aircraft included: Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat, Brig LS Lidder, Lt Col Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kumar, Vivek Kumar, B Sai Teja, and Havildar Satpal and five crew members of the chopper.
Gen Bipin Rawat, who initially survived, later died in the Wellington Military Hospital. Two others with severe burns are still battling for life.
Soon after the death of Gen Rawat, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Army Chief MM Narwane rushed to his official residence in New Delhi. President Ramnath Kovind who was in Mumbai cancelled a function scheduled to be held in Raj Bhavan in South Mumbai.
Bipin Laxman Singh Rawat (age 63) a former Army Chief, was the first Chief of Defence Staff of India and had assumed office on January 01, 2020. Before that, he also served as 57th and last chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee.