India's 1st CDS Killed In Chopper Crash
The Times of India Mumbai|December 09, 2021
Mi-17 With Gen Rawat And Wife, 12 Others Goes Down In Nilgiris; Just 1 Survivor
Shantha Thiagarajan & V Devanathan

Coonoor (TN): The country’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, a serving Brigadier and 10 more defence personnel died in an IAF helicopter crash in hilly terrain and foggy conditions near Coonoor, in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district, on Wednesday afternoon. Group Captain Varun Singh, directing staff at DSSC, was the sole survivor and is receiving treatment at the military hospital in Wellington.

Rawat (63), who was overseeing a tri-services modernisation plan to bring synergy and enhance combat capability, was on his way to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) at Wellington to deliver a lecture when his Russian-made Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed.

“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,” the IAF tweeted on Wednesday evening. The IAF has ordered an inquiry to ascertain the cause of the helicopter crash.

Gen Rawat left Delhi in the morning and landed at Sulur Air Force Station near Coimbatore around 11.35am. He boarded an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter that took off from Sulur airbase around 11.50am for the DSSC in Wellington. The chopper crashed into a gorge close to Nanjappa Chathram, a settlement near Katteri, around 7km from Coonoor and less than 20km from the DSSC, around 12.20pm, according to eyewitnesses. The chopper crashed just seven minutes before it was to land in Wellington. “It was very misty in the morning. I saw the chopper hit a huge tree and crash with a bang,” said Prakash of Burliar village.

The others who died in the crash were Brigadier L S Lidder (the CDS’s defence adviser), Lt Col Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander P S Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officers Das and Pradeep A, Havildar Satpal, Naik Jitender Kumar, Naik Gursewak Singh, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Sai Teja.

MINUTES FROM DESTINATION, A PLUNGE & A BURNING WRECK

8.47am: CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and wife Madhulika leave on IAF Embraer jet from Palam, Delhi

11.34am: Land at Sulur IAF station, near Coimbatore

11.47am: Take off in Mi-17V5 double-engine chopper with 12 others on board. Headed for Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, near Coonoor, where Gen Rawat is scheduled to address faculty & students

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