Helicopter crashes with India military chief General Bipin Rawat on board

Helicopter crashes with India military chief General Bipin Rawat on board

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New Delhi: A helicopter carrying India’s defence chief General Bipin Rawat crashed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, the air force said.

The 63-year-old chief of defence staff was travelling in a Russian-made Mi-17V5 chopper that “met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu”, the Indian Air Force said on Twitter.

Rawat is India’s first chief of defence staff, a position that the Indian government established in 2019, and is seen as close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He and his wife were on board along with other officers and were headed to the Defence Services Staff College, a senior army officer told AFP.

A video broadcast by the Indian News Channel showed burning debris at the crash site in a dense forest area near Nilgiris District College.

According to media reports, the helicopter took off from Suluer Air Force Base on Wednesday afternoon and some passengers have been taken to the hospital for treatment.

Rawat comes from a military family with several generations having served in the Indian armed forces.

The general, who has four decades of service behind him, has commanded forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and along the Line of Actual Control bordering China.

He is credited with reducing insurgency on India’s northeastern frontier and supervised a cross-border counter-insurgency operation into neighbouring Myanmar.

The Air Force said it is investigating the accident.

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