Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces General Bipin Rawat died on Wednesday after the Indian Air Force helicopter he was travelling in crashed in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor in Nilgiris. CDS General Rawat's wife Madhulika and 11 others also perished in the crash.
Group Captain Varun Singh SC is the sole survivor of the crash and is currently undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital, Wellington.
The Indian Air Force in a statement said that CDS Gen Rawat was on his way to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington to address the faculty and staff when the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter carrying him, four crew member and nine other passengers crashed in Coonoor.
The IAF has also ordered an inquiry to ascertain the cause of the accident.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed his condolences stating that CDS General Rawat's "untimely death is an irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country."
"General Rawat had served the country with exceptional courage and diligence. As the first Chief of Defence Staff he had prepared plans for jointness of our Armed Forces," Singh said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to chair a Cabinet Committee on Security meeting at 6.30 pm on Wednesday.Rajnath Singh visited CDS Rawat's house in New Delhi to speak with his family. The Defence Minister is expected to provide an update to the Parliament on Thursday.
Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari is reportedly on his way to the crash site at Coonoor.
Apart from General Rawat and his wife, the chopper was carrying Brigadier LS Lidder, Defence Adviser to Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja and Havildar Satpal.
The crash victims were taken to the Wellington cantonment hospital.
In 2015, the then Lieutenant General Rawat had a lucky escape after a Cheetah helicopter he was on crashed soon after take off from Rangapahar helipad in Nagaland's Dimapur district.
Videos on social media show the remains of the Mi-17V5 chopper on fire as locals conduct search and rescue operations.
This is a developing story
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