The fatal crash of an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu causing the death of India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and 11 other armed forces personnel has led to several unrelated visuals flooding social media claiming to capture the incident.
The Chief of Defence Staff General Rawat, his wife Madhulika, defense assistant, security commandos and an IAF pilot were on board the Mi-series chopper when it crashed between Coimbatore and Sulur in Tamil Nadu on December 8, 2021. The Indian Air Force (IAF) ordered an inquiry into the accident and added that Rawat was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course.
Besides Gen Rawat and his wife Madhulika, those killed in the crash included Brig LS Lidder, the defence assistant to the Chief of Defence Staff, and staff officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh. The other personnel killed in the crash are Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Sai Teja.
BOOM has since debunked several pieces of misinformation around the tragic incident with old videos, images and an animation being linked to the crash.
A photo from 2019 of an Indian Army helicopter after it made an emergency landing in Jammu was viral with a false claim that it is an image of the IAF chopper that crashed 13 on board.
BOOM ran a reverse image search found the same photo published by NDTV on October 24, 2019.
An old video from Syria which shows a helicopter engulfed in flames, went viral with a false claim that it showed the crash.
The video, which shows a helicopter ablaze in the air and then crashing, was being shared with a false caption, "Bipin Rawat Helicopter Crashed In Tamil Nadu live Video"
However, BOOM found that the video shows a Syrian Air Force helicopter that was shot down by rebels in February 2020 in Idlib.
A video of an IAF helicopter crash landing in Arunachal Pradesh on November 18, was being shared online falsely claiming it to capture the accident.
The video was being shared with the caption, "Bipin Rawat Helicopter Crashed In Tamil Nadu Video."
BOOM found that the video is from November 18, when an IAF chopper crash landed in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh during a routine sortie.
An animation video created by a news channel to show the sequence of events before the accident was being shared falsely claiming it shows satellite video of the incident.
The viral video was being shared with the caption, "Satellite video of helicopter crash in Conoor. It appears the tail rotor got snapped and the chopper suddenly turned in reverse direction and crashed within 2 seconds. No reaction time."
However, BOOM found that the viral video is from a News7 Tamil report showing a graphical representation of the events that might have led to the chopper crash.
Several conspiracy theories also flooded social media since the crash with some social media users linking the crash, that killed General Rawat, to either an attack by insurgents, or internal sabotage, or even a communal attack.
However, no substantial evidence has been provided to actually back up any of the claims.
The Indian Air Force had constituted a tri-service Court of Inquiry to investigate the cause of the tragic helicopter accident on December 8, 2021, and stated that the inquiry would be completed expeditiously and facts would be brought out while cautioning against uninformed speculation.