A military helicopter with the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on board, among many others, crashed on Wednesday near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force said.
The status of Gen. Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat, who was also onboard, was not known. An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
4 people rescued
Four persons on board the IAF Mi-17 V5 helicopter have been rescued so far, Nilgiris Superintendent of Police Ashish Rawat confirmed. However, they had sustained severe burn injuries.
Confirming the rescue operation told The Hindu that the four persons have been admitted to the Ooty Government Hospital.
Eyewitnesses near the crash site said they rushed out on hearing a loud sound in the afternoon. P. Krishnasamy, a resident of Najappan Sathiram in Kattery, Coonoor, said that he was at home when he heard the loud sounds of the helicopter blades.
“I ran out and saw the chopper climb steep from the valley below, before it clipped a tree and crashed,” he said.
Mr. Krishnasamy said that he saw people exit from the burning chopper, screaming for help. “As the fire was too big, we couldn’t approach [the site],” he said.
Another resident, P. Chandrakumar, said that helicopters heading to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington usually fly over the settlement, but that there was heavy cloud cover when the accident occurred.
– Coimbatore bureau
Rajnath briefs PM Modi about crash, Stalin to go to Coonoor
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is monitoring the situation and a meeting of senior Defence Ministry officials is on. He has briefed PM Narendra Modi about the crash. He isn’t visiting the spot, according to official sources.
Mr Singh has asked the Air Force chief to visit the site, a defence source said.
Tamil Nadu CM M.K. Stalin will go to Coonoor on Wednesday evening in the wake of the helicopter crash. Mr. Stalin will fly by a chartered flight at 4.45 p.m.
“An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the IAF tweeted.
The wreckage where a helicopter carrying Gen. Bipin Rawat and others crashed in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
The helicopter which took off from Sulur air base, where they had a brief halt, was on its way to Defence Services Staff College in Wellington with 14 people onboard including some of his staff, it has been learnt.
The helicopter caught fire on impact on the ground and search and rescue efforts were immediately launched.
“Hoping for the safety of CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife and others onboard the chopper. Prayers for speedy recovery,” tweeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.