Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and his wife were among 13 killed in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, the Air Force said. Sole survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, is being treated for 90 per cent burn injuries, it added.
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.— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said General Bipin Rawat was an "outstanding soldier" and that "India will never forget his exceptional service".
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh condoled the death of the top defence official and said, "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".
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called the accident an unprecedented tragedy. "I extend my condolences to the family of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife. This is an unprecedented tragedy and our thoughts are with their family in this difficult time. Heartfelt condolences also to all others who lost their lives," he wrote on Twitter.
General Bipin Rawat's Defence Assistant, security commandos and Indian Air Force personnel were also among the 14 on board in a Mi-17 V5 chopper that "met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu," the air force said.
Visuals showed the badly damaged chopper in flames, possibly under the impact of the crash. The accident site was a scene of despair with trees being reduced to broken pieces under the impact of the crash, flames from the chopper engulfing the wooden logs resulting in billowing smoke and personnel scurrying to douse the fire, including using buckets and water hose.
What seemed to be some charred bodies were also seen lying around.
Here are the Highlights on Air Force Chopper Crash With CDS Bipin Rawat Onboard:
In a message to his #Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian offered condolences over the death of India's defense chief General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash on behalf of himself, the government and people of #Iran. pic.twitter.com/OLzKmTuSlR- Iran Foreign Ministry 🇮🇷 (@IRIMFA_EN) December 8, 2021
The US Embassy extended its deepest condolences to the Rawat family and the families of those who perished in the tragic helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu.
As India's first Chief of Defence Staff, General Rawat spearheaded a historic period of transformation in the military. He was a strong friend and partner of the United States, overseeing a major expansion of India's defense cooperation with the US military. In September, he spent five days traveling throughout the United States as part of a counterpart visit with General Mark Milley to discuss military developments and opportunities to enhance our cooperation with like-minded countries. His legacy will continue on.
"Shocked and saddened beyond words at the most tragic death of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife, and 11 other Officers in the helicopter crash. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family members and prayers for the injured officer. Om Shanti," tweeted BS Yediyurappa.
Deeply pained by the sudden demise of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife & 11 other Armed Forces personnel in an unfortunate helicopter accident today in Tamil Nadu.Huge loss to the nation.- Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) December 8, 2021
I salute Gen Rawat for his outstanding services. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved families.
"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," wrote PM Modi on Twitter.
Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/YOuQvFT7Et- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 8, 2021
General Bipin Rawat was appointed the 27th Chief of the Army Staff in 2016 amid a controversy over his seniority. He had superseded two senior officers to occupy the Army chief's position. He then rose to become the Chief of Defence Staff in 2019.
"I am shocked and anguished over the untimely demise of Gen. Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika ji. The nation has lost one of its bravest sons. His four decades of selfless service to the motherland was marked by exceptional gallantry and heroism. My condolences to his family," tweeted President Ram Nath Kovind.
"A very sad day for the nation as we have lost our CDS, General #BipinRawat Ji in a very tragic accident. He was one of the bravest soldiers, who has served the motherland with utmost devotion. His exemplary contributions, commitment cannot be put into words": @AmitShahpic.twitter.com/6AB1Sphe7Q- NDTV (@ndtv) December 8, 2021
I extend my condolences to the family of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife.- Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 8, 2021
This is an unprecedented tragedy and our thoughts are with their family in this difficult time.
Heartfelt condolences also to all others who lost their lives.
India stands united in this grief.
"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," said Rajnath Singh.
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.- Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Army Chief General MM Naravane visited Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat's home today. Their visits came after a chopper carrying Gen Rawat crashed, killing 13 people. Gen Rawat's condition is unclear.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin will visit the spot in the Nilgiris, Coonoor where a Mi-17V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force carrying Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 13 others crashed on Wednesday.
The Chief Minister will travel to Coimbatore from Chennai and later move to The Nilgiris to take stock of the mishap in which five people are confirmed to have died and two others have been reported with severe injuries in the crash.
The Mi17V5 helicopter, which crashed with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat and 13 other people onboard on Wednesday, is an advanced military transport chopper that has been with the Indian Air Force (IAF) since 2012.
Manufactured by Russian Helicopters' subsidiary Kazan, the helicopter has an onboard weather radar and is equipped with the latest generation of night vision devices.
It also has the new PKV-8 autopilot system and a KNEI-8 avionics suite. It can carry a maximum take off weight of 13,000 kg and maximum payload weight of 4,000 kg.
India had in 2008 signed a deal with Russia to induct 80 Mi17V5 medium lift helicopters for strengthening its chopper fleet for humanitarian and disaster relief missions and transport operations.
The contract was later expanded for delivery of 151 Mi17V5 helicopters.
The first batch of these helicopters came to India in September 2011.
The Mi-17V-5 helicopters are extremely reliable and are the workhorses of the Air Force, several former army officers told NDTV after one of these choppers crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and his wife among 14 people on board. The crash perplexed the experts, who said the flight from Sulur to Wellington did not involve complications.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ended an administrative review meeting midway as soon as she came to know that an army chopper with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat on board crashed in Tamil Nadu.
An Indian Air Force helicopter with Gen Bipin Rawat on board met with an accident today near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. Four bodies are known to have been retrieved from the site of the incident.
I am deeply shocked & disheartened on hearing the army chopper with CDS General Bipin Rawat and 13 others has met with an accident near Coonoor.- M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) December 8, 2021
I've instructed the local administration to provide all the help needed in rescue operations even as I'm rushing to the spot.
A helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat crashed this morning. There were 14 people on board. The government has not yet commented on the condition of General Rawat, whose wife was travelling with him.
At 4.14 pm, Tamil Nadu government officials said that five of the passengers were found dead, two were hospitalized with severe burns, and the remaining had yet to be found.
They refused to comment on General Rawat, saying the Defence Ministry will share more details on him.
An Air Force chopper that had Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and 13 others on board crashed in Tamil Nadu this afternoon.
"Saddened to hear that the IAF chopper carrying CDS General #BipinRawat crashed. I am trying to gather more information on the incident. As per preliminary information, he has been taken to hospital for treatment": Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai- NDTV (@ndtv) December 8, 2021
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has reached General Bipin Rawat's residence
I have reached here (chopper crash site) on the instructions of the Chief Minister. Out of the 14 people on board, five people have died and the situation of two others is critical. Rescue operation is underway, said Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K Ramachandran.
Five bodies have been found from the crash site and two persons have been taken to hospital with severe burn injuries. A search is on for seven others.
Sources said Mr Singh, who is attending a meeting with senior officials of his ministry, will brief the Lok Sabha shortly. For now, he will not travel to Tamil Nadu and is monitoring the situation from Delhi, sources said.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his family members and staff were in the air force chopper that crashed between Coimbatore and Sulur in Tamil Nadu this afternoon.
Distressed to hear the news of an Army helicopter crash carrying CDS General Shri Bipin Rawat Ji and other senior Army officials. Praying for their safety & well-being.- Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) December 8, 2021
Reports at this time say five people have died and two have survived; they are in hospital with severe burn injuries. News agency ANI, quoting sources, said the injured have been taken to the military hospital at the Wellingdon base. Details about the rest are not known so far.
An Army chopper carrying Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, at least one member of his family, and several of his staff members crashed in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.
Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat was on an army chopper that crashed in Tamil Nadu a short while ago.
General Rawat's staff and family members were also among the nine people on board.
#WATCH | Latest visuals from the spot (between Coimbatore and Sulur) where a military chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu. CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, his staff and some family members were in the chopper.- ANI (@ANI) December 8, 2021
(Video Source: Locals involved in search and rescue operation) pic.twitter.com/YkBVlzsk1J