Defense chief killed along with 12 others in military helicopter crash

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Indian Defense Chief Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others were killed after a military helicopter they were traveling in crashed in southern India on Wednesday, the Air Force said Indian.

“With deep regret, it is now established that GenBipin Rawat, Ms. Madhulika Rawat and 11 others on board died in the unfortunate crash,” the Air Force said on Twitter.

With deep regret, it has now been established that General Bipin Rawat, Ms Madhulika Rawat and 11 others on board died in the unfortunate crash.

– Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021 Rawat was India’s first Chief of Defense Staff, a post the government created in 2019, and was seen as close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 63-year-old was traveling with his wife and 12 others in a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter which “crashed today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu,” the US military said. Indian air. An investigation into the causes of the incident was underway.

Footage from the scene showed a crowd of people trying to extinguish the flaming wreckage with buckets of water as a group of soldiers carried one of the passengers on an improvised stretcher.

Rawat was heading for the Defense Services Staff College from nearby Sulur Air Base in Coimbatore and the helicopter was already making its descent.

He fell about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the nearest road, forcing rescuers to reach the scene of the crash, another fire official told AFP.

Career officerRawat came from a military family with several generations of service in the Indian armed forces.

The general joined the military as a second lieutenant in 1978 and served in the armed forces for four decades. He commanded forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and along the line of actual control on the border with China and is credited with reducing the insurgency on the northeastern border of India and overseeing an operation cross-border counterinsurgency in neighboring Myanmar.

Rawat was chief of the 1.3 million man army from 2017 to 2019 before being promoted to chief of defense services.

The Mi-17 helicopter, which first entered service in the 1970s and is widely used by defense services around the world, has been involved in a number of accidents over the years.

Fourteen people died in an accident last month when an Azerbaijani military helicopter Mi-17 crashed during a training flight.

In 2019, four Indonesian soldiers were killed and five others injured in central Java in another training accident involving the plane.

(AXADLETM with AFP and REUTERS)

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