The IAF tweeted on Wednesday evening: “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.”
With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on boa… https://t.co/seb6UyJB0J
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) 1638966809000
The IAF Mi-17V5 chopper left the Sulur Air Force station in Coimbatore district at 11.48am to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington in the Nilgiris where Gen Bipin Rawat was to address the faculty and student officers of the staff course. The mishap happened within the next 30 minutes. The chopper crashed into a gorge in the jungle close to a small tribal settlement near Kattery, around seven km away from Coonoor and ten km away from the Defence Services Staff College.
There were 14 people, including Gen Bipin Rawat, on board the chopper. All, except Group Captain Varun Singh of the Defence Services Staff College, died in the crash. Varun Singh, who was rescued from the crash site with 80% burn injuries, is battling for life in Army hospital, Wellington.
The other deceased are chopper pilot Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Brigadier L S Lidder, Lt Col Harinder Singh, Squadron Leader Kuldeep, naik Guruswak Singh, naik K Jitendra Kumar , lance naik Vivek Kumar , lance naik B Sai Teja, havildar Satpal, junior warrant officer Pradeep and junior warrant officer Das.
IAF helicopter crash live updates
Charred bodies were recovered from the crash site. There were a few Army personnel who were rescued with severe burn injuries and were taken to Army hospital in Wellington.
Preliminary reports said that the weather was bad in Coonoor which might have caused the mishap. Fire service, defence and police personnel were pressed into rescue operations.
Rescue teams had tough time to reach the crash site and the terrain was uneven and there was thick vegetation. There was no proper pathway to access the accident spot beyond a point. Tribals suggested a jungle path to reach a tribal temple which was close to the accident spot from where Army personnel had to create a pathway.
Tribals in the locality told the police that they were used to Army choppers frequenting the DSSC and hence did not pay much attention when helicopter flew over the spot. But only after the noise and smoke they realised that the chopper had crashed.
An eyewitness said that the sky was completely covered with mist and nothing was visible. Behind the mist they could see the chopper in flames coming down crashing, an aged man from the tribal settlement said.
Within minutes, ambulance and Army vehicles rushed to the spot. Six ambulances from Coimbatore and the Nilgiris were also called and the injured were rescued. They were sent to Wellington army hospital.
Prakash, a resident of Burliar village near the accident site, said, “The chopper was flying just 200 metre above my house. It was very misty in the morning. We would not know whether the chopper crashed due to a technical snag or it hit a tree and caught fire because of the bad weather. I helped the fire service personnel to douse the fire.”
Watch CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, 13 others killed in helicopter crash in Coonoor in Tamil Nadu