Official details of the condition of the passengers aboard the Air Force chopper carrying Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, that crashed at 12.20 P.M in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, are still awaited. However it is confirmed that apart from the CDS, his wife, and several of his staff members, including his Defence Assistant, security commandos and other Air Force personnel were on board. According to multiple news reports, 14 people – five crew and nine passengers – were on board the Air Force’s Mi-17V5 helicopter.
Five people have reportedly died, two survivors have been taken to the military hospital at the Wellingdon base and were reportedly critical, and search operations continue to look for the other seven. According to news reports, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and was briefing the Parliament as well. General Bipin Rawat, 63, is India’s first Chief of Defence Staff and took charge in January 2019; he also heads the Department of Military Affairs.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin shared that he has “instructed the local administration to provide all the help needed in rescue operations” and was also “rushing to the spot.”
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.
I’ve instructed the local administration to provide all the help needed in rescue operations even as I’m rushing to the spot.
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) December 8, 2021
According to news reports, the chopper crashed shortly after it took off this morning from an Air Force base in Sulur near Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore, and was heading to Wellington in Udhagamandalam, also known as Ooty, where a Defence Services Staff College is located. The defence establishment reportedly learnt of the incident from villagers in nearby Katteri who informed the district administration.
Visuals shared over social media showed the crashed chopper, parts of which had caught fire. Those rescued have sustained severe burn injuries. The Air Force, also announced that an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021