Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others perished in an Indian Air Force Mi-17 V5 helicopter crash near Coonoor in the Nilgiris in western Tamil Nadu on Wednesday afternoon.
Only one IAF officer survived and is undergoing medical treatment. The chopper was just 10 km away from its destination - the Wellington Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), where General Rawat was to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Court, when it crashed and turned into a fireball around 12.25 pm.
Nearly six hours after the tragic accident, the Indian Air Force Media Coordination Centre confirmed that the top officer was no more.
With deep regret, it has been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident," the IAF MCC tweeted at 6.03 pm. Group Captain Varun Singh, Directing Staff at DSSC, who sustained injuries, is admitted at the Military Hospital in Wellington. Eyewitnesses said they came out of their homes in Kattery near Coonoor on hearing loud sounds of helicopter blades whirring and saw the chopper crash into a tree before it was engulfed in flames.
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