- Group Captain Varun Singh won the Shaurya Chakra in August.
- General Bipin Rawat was among those who died in the chopper crash.
- The chopper was already making its descent at the time of the crash.
Group Captain Varun Singh is the sole survivor of the military helicopter crash that occurred on Wednesday in Tamil Nadu, killing India's top military officer, General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and 11 others.
Group Captain Varun Singh is being treated for severe burn injuries at the military hospital in Wellington. He won the Shaurya Chakra in August for his courage in handling his aircraft after it was hit by major technical issues during a sortie last year. He landed his Tejas fighter safely despite the mid-air emergency.
The Tamil Nadu government has made special arrangements to treat the Group Captain at a hospital in Coimbatore, in case the Air Force decides it wants to move him there.
Group Captain Singh had gone down to Sulur from Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, to receive General Rawat, who was to address the faculty and students there.
The paternal village of Group Captain Singh is in eastern Uttar Pradesh's Deoria and is father K P Singh retired from the Army as colonel. State Congress leader Akhilesh Pratap Singh is his uncle.
Speaking to the media, Group Captain Singh's uncle Dinesh Pratap Singh said, "He is currently in hospital, we will get information about his condition when the Air Force issues a bulletin."
General Rawat, 63, was headed to the Defence College in Wellington in the Russian-made Mi-17 chopper, which crashed near its destination around noon.
"His untimely death is an irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country," Defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus."
General Rawat was named India's first Chief of Defence Staff in 2019 and entrusted with improving the coordination between the army, the air force and the navy. Supervised by him, India conducted surgical strikes at a terror camp at Balakot in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir in retaliation for a major terror attack that left 40 paramilitary troops dead in Kashmir.
He was headed to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) to address students and faculty from the nearby Sulur air force base in Coimbatore.
The chopper was already making its descent at the time of the crash.
It came down around 10 kilometres from the nearest main road, forcing emergency workers to trek to the accident site.
Bodies recovered from the crash site were badly charred, said rescue officials.