Update:  India

India’s military chief and his wife have been killed along with 11 others after their helicopter crashed and burst into flames on Wednesday morning, December 8. 

 

General Bipin Rawat was on board a Russian-made Mi-17V5 chopper when it crashed in a forest near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday, the Indian Air Force confirmed on Twitter.

 

The defence chief, 63, his wife Madhulika Rawat and other officers were among 14 people on the chopper, which took off from Sulur Air Force Station this afternoon, according to local media reports.

 

Update:  India

 

One person with injuries is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington, India’s Air Force said in a series of tweets confirming the death of Rawat and his wife Madhulika.

 

Update:  India

 

Rawat was travelling to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to deliver a lecture when the helicopter crashed in Coonoor. 

 

Footage seen online showed thick plumes of smoke billowing from the fiery wreck at the crash site in a dense forested area in the Nilgiris district.

 

Update:  India

 

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

 

Rawat, a four-star general, had previously survived a helicopter crash in February 2015 when he was the III Corps commander in Dimapur, Nagaland.  

 

Also on board the helicopter today were Rawat’s defence assistant, security commandos and an IAF pilot.