Both houses of parliament today observed a two-minute silence in memory of Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and 12 other people killed in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu yesterday.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh briefed both houses on the crash, stating that Group Captain Varun Singh, the only survivor, was on life support.
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The Indian Air Force has ordered a tri-service investigation, which will be led by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command, according to the minister.
“The Chief of Defence Staff will be cremated with full military honours. I, on behalf of the august House, pay homage to the deceased persons and express condolences to the bereaved families,” Rajnath Singh said.
General Rawat was heading to Wellington on Wednesday afternoon to address the students and faculty of the Defence Services Staff College when the Air Force chopper crashed into the mountains.
“The Air Force Mi 17 V 5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 AM yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 PM. Air Traffic Control at the Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 PM,” Rajnath Singh said.
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Locals saw a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the scene, where they discovered the wreckage of a military helicopter engulfed in flames, he said.
“The dead include General Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other armed forces personnel including the Air Force helicopter crew,” he said.
“With profound grief and heavy heart, I stand to convey the unfortunate news of the crash of the military helicopter in the noon of 8th December 2021, with India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat onboard.
Gen Bipin Rawat was in Wellington for a scheduled visit to engage with student officers at the Defence Services Staff College. Yesterday, the Air Force Mi 17 V 5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 am and was scheduled to arrive in Wellington at 12:15 pm. At 12:08 pm, Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter. Following that, a few locals sighted a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the scene, where they discovered a military helicopter wreckage set ablaze. Rescue teams from the local administration in the area arrived at the crash site and repeatedly tried to recover the survivors.
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Everyone who was rescued from the wreckage was rushed to Wellington’s Military Hospital. According to the latest reports, 13 of the 14 people aboard the ill-fated helicopter have died as a result of their injuries.
Mrs Madhulika Rawat, the CDS’s wife, his Defense Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh, and nine other Armed Forces personnel, including the Air Force helicopter crew, were among those killed. The Indian Air Force has ordered a tri-Service investigation into the incident, which will be led by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.