Indian Defence Chief General Bipin Rawat, 12 others killed in IAF chopper crash in Tamil Nadu

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.

 The crash took place in the Nilgiris, shortly after the Mi-series chopper took off from the army base   216 Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat died today after an Air Force helicopter carrying him and 13 others crashed shortly after take-off in Tamil Nadu. General Rawat's wife Madhulika Rawat was killed.  The crash took place shortly after the Russian-made Mi-17 V5 chopper took off from the Air Force base in Sulur, Coimbatore, for Wellington in the Nilgiri Hills.  The helicopter was already making its descent and would have landed in 10 more minutes. It came down around 10 km from the nearest road, forcing emergency workers to trek to the accident site, said news agency AFP.  Reports of the crash emerged around 12.20 pm.   Videos showed wreckage scattered on a hillside and rescuers struggling through thick smoke and fire to locate bodies. Charred bodies were pulled out by locals and cops from under mangled metal and fallen trees.  ALSO READ
General Rawat, 63, took charge as India's first Chief of Defence Staff in January 2019. Photo courtesy: Indian Defence Ministry

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.