NEW DEHLI, India – Indian Defense Chief General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday afternoon.
Rawat was travelling with his wife and 12 others in a Russian made Mi-17 chopper that “met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamid Nadu,” the air force said.
Rawat is India’s first chief of defence staff. Chief of Defence staff is a position seen as close to Prime Minister Nerendra Modi.
“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,” the air force said on Twitter.
While heading to the Defence Services Staff College from the nearby Sulur air force base, from there the helicopter was already making its descent, came down around 10 kilometers from the nearest road, forcing emergency workers to trek the accident site said one of the fire officials.
An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the crash.
India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh paid homage to the victims on Thursday in parliament.
“With profound grief and heavy heart, I stand to convey the unfortunate news of the crash of the military helicopter in the noon of 8 December 2021, with India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat on board,” said Mr Singh.
Their bodies will be brought to the national capital of Delhi on Thursday. Gen Rawat and his wife Madhulika’s funerals will be held on Friday.
The general will be cremated with full military honours.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said Gen Rawat was a “valued partner” for Washington.
“General Rawat left an indelible mark on the course of the US-India defense partnership and was at the centre of the Indian armed forces’ transformation into a more jointly integrated warfighting organisation,” Mr. Austin said in a statement.
Source: Yahoo News