- Mi-17V5 chopper carrying CDS chief Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat along with 12 others crashes near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu
- 13 out of 14 were confirmed dead in the accident
- An official statement on the incident is likely to be issued by the Government in Parliament tomorrow
As conveyed by the Indian Air Force, an IAF helicopter with the Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat along with 13 others crashed briefly post take-off near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. Initial search operations discovered five bodies from the crash site. People with acute burn injuries who were in serious condition were taken to the nearby military hospital, Wellington in Tamil Nadu.
Search activities are underway for the remaining seven people. Among the passengers on board were General Rawat’s wife, Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Assistant, security commandos, and Air Force personnel.
An inquiry has been issued to ascertain the cause of the crash. Initial sources confirmed that CDS Rawat was hospitalised for treatment and later succumbed to injuries. Thirteen people out of the 14 onboard have been confirmed dead by sources and DNA testing would aid identification of the deceased. One with 90 per cent burns is undergoing treatment at the moment.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur, at the Cabinet meeting, had assured that information relating to the chopper crash will be shared.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been briefed by Army Chief General MM Naravane on the ill-fated occurrence. A statement is likely to be issued by the Government on the incident in the Parliament tomorrow.
Vehicles travelling via the Coonoor route to Ooty are halted at Mettupalayam and have been diverted through the Kothagiri route. CM M.K. Stalin has instructed the local administration to fully cooperate in the rescue operations.
IAF communicated that CDS Rawat was travelling to Defence Staff College in Wellington to attend a cadet interaction programme. The Mi-17V5 was returning from its base at Sulur to Wellington when it crashed in a gorge neighbouring a tea estate near Kattery, approximately seven kilometres from Coonoor.
Poor visibility due to heavy fog was cited as the plausible reason for the crash. TV visuals revealed the helicopter in flames as the local residents were attempting to put out the fire. A court of inquiry has been issued by the Indian Air Force to probe the accident.
The helicopter which was a part of the 109 Helicopter Unit located at Sulur airbase near Coimbatore, crash-landed about 10km away from the helipad.