The wreckage of the chopper seen at the carsh site.
Gulf Today Report
Indian Military Chief Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force said an army helicopter carrying the country's military chief crashed on Wednesday.
Local media reported that all 14 a board were killed. Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh was expected to make a statement soon to Parliament.
Television images showed the helicopter in flames as local residents tried to douse it.
Local news channels showed a flight manifest that displayed the names of nine people as passengers, including Rawat’s wife and other senior defence officials.
The list of people who were on board the chopper:
Gen Bipin Rawat
Mrs Madhulika Rawat
Brig LS Lidder, SM,VSM
Lt Col Harjinder Singh
NK Gursewak Singh
NK Jitendra Kumar
B Sai Teja
Apart from the dignitaries, five crew members were there in the helicopter.
The crash site is in a forested area, which is making access to the site a difficult proposition.
The Indian Air Force said on Twitter, “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 incident happened in the Nilgiris, shortly after the Mi-series chopper took off from the army base in Sulur.
The chopper was heading to the Wellington defence establishment.
Rawat is India's first chief of defence staff, a position that the Indian government established in 2019, and is seen as close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rawat comes from a military family with several generations having served in the Indian armed forces.
The general, who has four decades of service behind him, has commanded forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and along the Line of Actual Control bordering China.
He is credited with reducing insurgency on India's northeastern frontier and supervised a cross-border counter-insurgency operation into neighbouring Myanmar.
The air force said an inquiry was underway into the accident.
The armed force said that positive identification of only three mortal remains — Gen Rawat, Madhulika Rawat and Brig L.S. Lidder — has been possible as of now, and their mortal remains will be released to the next of kin for final rites as desired by the respective families.
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