India’s top military commander has been killed in a helicopter violent collision in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the country’s Air Force declares.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others died as the Mi-17V5 helicopter came down in hills near Coonoor city on Wednesday morning.
One survivor is being treated for his wounds in hospital.
Gen Rawat, 63, was official chosen India’s first-ever Chief of Defence Staff in January 2019.
This joined together the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and Gen Rawat had been in charge of a set of different operations as well as in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The Indian Air Force said it had authorized an inquiry into the accident, which occurred in misty weather. A cabinet security committee is holding an an urgent meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Twitter, Mr Modi said:
“[Gen Rawat] brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service.
“A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernizing our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptions. His passing away has saddened me deeply.”
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Images from the crash site revealed thick plumes of smoke swirling from the severely damage remains of the helicopter, and local people trying to put out the fire.
The helicopter had just taken off from the army base in Sulur, and was headed for Wellington town, certainly not up to 100km (62 miles) away, where Gen Rawat was ready to visit the Defence Services Staff College.
The only one who hasn’t died of the crash is a captain working at the college.
Even though the Russian-made Mi-17V5 is one of the greatest intelligently worldly advanced military transport helicopters, India’s ageing air force fleet is frequently blamed for a high number of violent collision.
Erstwhile army chief J J Singh said it was “a safe, proven helicopter”, adding that he himself had traveled on it in hard situations.
In 2017, seven military personnel were killed in a violent crash in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. The helicopter was on a training sortie.
A year earlier, another of the helicopters had crashed instantly following take-off in the course of a military drill in the northern state of Uttarakhand. No fatalities were reported.