Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat was among 13 killed as the helicopter he was onboard crashed near Conoor in Tamil Nadu.
CDS Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, defence assistant, security commandos and an IAF pilot were on board the new Mi-17 V5 helicopter when it crashed between Coimbatore and Sulur in Tamil Nadu today. Reports of the crash began coming in around 12:20 pm IST.
Rawat was on his way to Defence Staff College in Wellington from the Indian Air Force base in Sulur near Coimbatore, as per sources. Along with eight others, he boarded a flight from Delhi to Sulur earlier today, sources added.
Several teams, including local military officers, reached the site for search and rescue operations. Videos showed wreckage scattered on a hillside and rescuers struggling through thick smoke and fire to locate bodies.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has ordered the local officials to provide the best medical care possible to those injured in the incident.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh may brief Parliament on the chopper crash.
Singh is monitoring the situation and is said to have briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the crash.
He had also paid a visit to Rawat's residence in Delhi.
An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, the IAF tweeted.