General Bipin Rawat death: Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 12 others died in an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter Mi-17V5 IAF crash in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has issued a list of names of General Bipin Rawat's staff who were also on board the crashed chopper. Apart from CDS General Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier LS Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kumar, L/NK Vivek Kumar, L/NK B Sai Teja and Hav Satpal were among those on board the aircraft.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has instructed the local administration to provide all the help needed in rescue operations.
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
Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan was the pilot of the Mi-17V5. He is the Commanding Officer of the 109 Helicopter Unit, said the sources. The IAF, meanwhile, confirmed the death of General Bipin Rawat.
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.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021
The IAF chopper crashed shortly after it took off this morning from an Air Force base in Sulur near Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore. It was heading to Wellington in Udhagamandalam, also known as Ooty, where a Defence Services Staff College is located.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. Photo: Social mediaAlso read | Jacqueline Fernandez appears before ED for questioning in money laundering case
The crash was first reported around 12.20 pm. The defence establishment learnt of the incident from villagers in nearby Katteri, who informed the district administration. Eight ambulances and medical teams from Coimbatore and Wellingdon reached the spot. The identities of the bodies would be confirmed through DNA testing, added the sources.
The crash site is in a forested area, which made access to the wreckage difficult. Visuals showed pieces of the chopper, some of which were still on fire, scattered on the hillside.
Days after the Central Government announced the creation of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post, retiring Army chief, General Bipin Rawat, was on December 30 appointed the first tri-service chief with effect from December 31, 2019.
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General Bipin Rawat was the first sitting Chief of Army Staff to be appointed to the top post. The Central Government had initially amended the Army rules to extend the age of superannuation from 62 years to 65 years, thus paving the way for the appointment.
Notably, the Mi series choppers are the workhorse of the Indian Air Force and are used in high-altitude operations. They are also used to ferry VIPs, including the Prime Minister.