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Chopper Crash: IAF confirms the death of CDS Bipin Rawat, wife and 11 others

CDS General Bipin Rawat and 13 others were on board the IAF chopper when it crashed in Tamil Nadu, the sole survivor of the crash is undergoing treatment

By The Probe
New Update

The Indian Air Force on Wednesday confirmed the death of CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu. In a statement, the IAF informed that the Mi 17 V5 helicopter with a crew of 4 members carrying the CDS and 9 other passengers met with a tragic accident near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.

General Bipin Rawat was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in Nilgiri Hills to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course when the incident occurred. The reason for the crash is still unknown. While local villagers near the crash site have confirmed that the chopper was flying at a low altitude moments before the crash, the local authorities in Nilgiri district have claimed that the weather conditions were not conducive during the time of the accident.

Army sources have said that it is too early to determine the exact cause behind the incident. Whether technical issue, human error or weather related cause, only an investigation can determine the causal factor, said sources. However, the Indian Air Force has ordered an inquiry into the incident to ascertain the cause.

The Indian Air Force also tweeted mentioning that Group Captain Varun Singh who works at the DSSC got injured in the crash and is the lone survivor and is currently under treatment at the Military Hospital in Wellington.

Apart from CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife, the chopper was carrying senior defence officials and the helicopter crew. The incident took place between Coimbatore and Sulur in Tamil Nadu.

Condoling the death of Gen Bipin Rawat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet, “I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost General Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families”.

“As India’s first CDS, General Rawat worked on diverse aspects related to our Armed Forces including defence reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service,” said the PM.

Villagers near Coonoor who were witnesses to the incident said they immediately rushed to the spot after they heard a loud noise of the helicopter crashing into the trees. Soon after the crash, the helicopter went into flames and the charred pieces of the wreckage were seen scattered all around the crash site. The local villagers had initially taken 2 bodies with nearly 80% burns to a nearby hospital. In the first few minutes following the crash, the villagers attempted to douse the fire in the crash site using buckets of water and by spraying water from hose pipes.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the residence of CDS Rawat to express his solidarity with the family members. The minister also briefed the Prime Minister on the incident. In a twitter message, the Defence Minister said: “General Rawat had served the country with exceptional courage and diligence. As the first Chief of Defence Staff he had prepared plans for the jointness of our Armed Forces.”

According to the locals who rushed to the crash site, the helicopter was flying at a low altitude and poor weather, mist and foggy conditions could have led to low visibility. The local villagers who initially helped the district authorities and the police in the rescue operations said that the fire that raged from the crashed chopper was uncontrollable for the first few minutes. People who witnessed the incident said that there were charred bodies scattered all around along with charred remains of the helicopter.

Condoling the passing away of General Rawat, the Indian Army said in a statement: “General MM Naravane, COAS and all ranks of the Indian Army pay heartfelt condolences on the untimely demise of General Bipin Rawat CDS, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other passengers on board, in an unfortunate crash at Coonoor. The dynamic and inspiring leadership of General Bipin Rawat shall remain eternally etched in our memories. The Indian armed forces will forever remain indebted to his invaluable contributions.”

Following the news of the chopper crash and the untimely demise of General Rawat, condolences poured in from many parts of the world. In a tweet, President Ramnath Kovind said: “I am shocked and anguished over the untimely demise of Gen Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika ji. The nation has lost one of its bravest sons. His four decades of self service to the motherland was marked by exceptional gallantry and heroism. My condolences to the family.”

General Bipin Rawat was the first Chief of Defence Staff of India and he assumed office on 1 January 2020. Prior to this, he served as the 57th and last Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as well as the 26th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. General Rawat comes from a military family with several generations of his family having served in various capacities in the Indian armed forces.

General Rawat joined the Army in 1978 and he has over four decades of service behind him. He is a well decorated officer and is known for his counter insurgency cross border operations in Myanmar. He was also part of the planning of the 2016 surgical strikes. He has commanded forces in Kashmir and along the Line of Actual Control bordering China.

The mortal remains of CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife along with the other defence personnels killed in the crash is expected to arrive in Delhi by tomorrow.

Pls note: This is an ongoing story. We will update the story as we get the latest details.

    • 3:48 pm | 8 December, 2021

    • 4:00 pm | 8 December 2021

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visits CDS General Bipin Rawat's residence

    • 4.45 pm | 8 December 2021

Army chief MM Naravane visits CDS Bipin Rawat's residence

    • 5:10 pm | 8 December 2021

PM Modi to chair Cabinet Security Committee meet at 6.30pm at PM's residence

    • 06:03 pm | 8 December 2021

IAF confirms the death of CDS Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others

    • 6:06 pm | 8 November 2021

    • 6:26 pm | 8 December 2021

    • 6:29 pm | 8 December 2021

    • 7.10 pm | 8 December 2021

PM Modi chairs the Cabinet Security Committee meeting

    • 7.23 pm | 8 December 2021

IAF Chopper Crash-CDS Bipin Rawat

    • 08:30 am | 9 December 2021

Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari reaches the crash site

    • 11:01 am | 9 December 2021

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefs the Lok Sabha about the crash

    • 11:04 am | 9 December 2021

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announces tri-service enquiry into IAF chopper crash

    • 10:22 PM | 9 December 2021

PM Modi pays last respects to Gen Rawat, his wife and other deceased army personnels

    • 09:30 am | 10 December 2021

Brigadier LS Lidder’s mortal remains brought to Brar Square, Delhi Cantonment

    • 10:25 am | 10 December 2021

General Bipin Rawat and his wife’s mortal remains brought to his residence

    • 03:50 pm | 10 December 2021

Mortal remains of General Rawat, wife Madhulika Rawat brought to Brar Square Crematorium

    • 05:05 pm | 10 December 2021

CDS General Rawat laid to rest with full military honours