India: helicopter crashes with chief of staff on board, at least 3 killed

A helicopter carrying Indian Chief of Staff General Bipin Rawat crashed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, killing at least 13 people.

In a message posted on social media, the Indian Air Force said it had requested an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

“The Mi-17V5 (Russian) helicopter of the IAF (Indian Air Force), with the Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, crashed today near Coonoor, in Tamil Nadu,” the Indian Air Force wrote on Twitter.

General Rawat and his wife were on the plane with other officers and were heading to the Defense Service Staff School, a defense training institute, a senior military officer told AFP.

The identity of the victim is unknown

“There were three or four people injured at the crash site but we don’t know the identity of the dead,” a Coonoor fire department official told AFP.

“Some of the injured were taken to hospital,” he added, adding that about 20 fire engines were on the scene to extinguish the blaze.

Video broadcast on Indian news channels showed the wreckage of the plane on fire at the crash site, in a densely forested area near their destination in the Nilgiris district.

Local media reported that the helicopter took off from the Sulur Air Force Base on Wednesday afternoon.

Considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, General Bipin Rawat, 63, was India’s first chief of staff, a post created by the Indian government in 2019.

Garfield Woolery

"Award-winning travel lover. Coffee specialist. Zombie guru. Twitter fan. Friendly social media nerd. Music fanatic."

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