Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika are among the 13 people dead after an army chopper crashed near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force confirmed Wednesday. One defence personnel is the sole survivor of the crash and is presently under treatment at a military hospital in Wellington, where the chopper was headed from the base in Sulur.
The 14 people on board the Mi 17 V5 helicopter included the Rawats and senior defence staff. Though a certain number of deaths post the accident had been confirmed, the identities of the lives lost were previously withheld. Reports of critical injuries had surfaced with those affected having been rushed to Wellington. More here.
“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,” a tweet from the IAF read, hours after the crash at 12:20 PM.
As per reports, the mortal remains of General Rawat and his wife will be brought to Delhi in a military plane from Coimbatore. Before that there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Wellington. The bodies will be brought to General Rawat’s residence where people will be able to pay their last respects between 11 am to 2 pm. The funeral procession will start from Kamraj Marg to Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment.
IAF’s Group Captain Varun Singh has survived the crash. He was the recipient of the Shaurya Chakra on Independence Day this year in August.
General Bipin Rawat And Wife Dead: National Leaders Mourn Loss
General Rawat was India’s first Chief of Defence Staff while his wife Madhulika was an active member of army wives’ welfare groups. The couple is survived by two daughters.
Condolences are streaming in across party lines with top leaders mourning the Rawats’ deaths. Prime Minister Narendra Modi remembering General Rawat’s service to the nation said “he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus.”
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the CDS’ death was an “irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country.”
The chopper was headed to the Defence Services College in Wellington where General Rawat was scheduled to address an audience. Reports suggest the flight would have landed in merely ten minutes from where it crashed, had the accident not occurred. Local villagers were reportedly first to reach the crash site before they alerted defence authorities.