Indian Military Chief Gen Bipin Rawat Dies in Helicopter Crash Along With his Wife

Indian Air Force (IAF) announced the death of Chief of Defence Gen Bipin Rawat's demise in the helicopter crash that took place in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, December 8. A total of 14 people, including Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife, a defense assistant, security commandos, and an IAF pilot were on board the Mi-17V5 helicopter.

"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," IAF said in a tweet, before adding that Gen Bipin Rawat was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course on Wednesday.

ANI reported that a total of 13 people were confirmed dead in the incident and their identification will be ascertained with DNA testing. One male survivor is being treated for injuries. The extent of his injuries or identity is not known at the moment.

General Rawat, 63, was appointed as India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in January 2019. The Chief of Defence Staff is the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and is the main military adviser to the Defence Minister and the political leadership.

Gen Bipin Rawat pictured with his wife
Gen Bipin Rawat pictured with his wife Screen grab - Twitter

Bad weather

According to The Times of India, the Russian-made Mi-17V5 helicopter took off from Sulur air force station around 11:50 am on Wednesday and crashed somewhere within the next 30 minutes falling into a jungle close to a tribal settlement near Kattery, which is around 7 km from Coonoor and 10 km from the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. Preliminary reports suggest that bad weather might be a major cause of the accident.

The helicopter would have landed in 10 minutes

Videos of the rescue teams trying to pull of charred bodies from the crashed helicopter were doing rounds on the internet. According to NDTV, the helicopter was making its descent and would have landed in 10 more minutes when it crashed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh called a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) at Gen Rawat's residence. Politicians and celebrities paid homage to the CDS on his demise.