Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday briefed the Parliament on Army helicopter crash in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu that left Chief Of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other officers dead.
The defence minister extended his condolences to the families of those who died. The Parliament also observed a silence in honour of the departed souls.
With profound grief and heavy heart, I stand to convey the unfortunate news of the crash of the military helicopter in the noon of 8th December 2021, with India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat onboard.
Gen Bipin Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington to interact with the student Officers. The Air Force Mi 17 V 5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 AM yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 PM. Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 PM.
Subsequently, few locals spotted a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the spot where they observed the wreckage of military helicopter engulfed in flames. Rescue teams from the local administration in the vicinity reached the site and attempted to recover the survivors from the crash site.
All those recovered from the wreckage were rushed to the Military Hospital, Wellington. Latest reports have confirmed that out of the total 14 persons onboard the ill-fated helicopter, 13 have succumbed to their injuries. The dead include the spouse of the CDS, Mrs Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other Armed Forces personnel including the Air Force helicopter crew.
Their names are Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja.
On the receipt of the information, The Chief of the Air Staff has been sent to the site of the incident yesterday. He took stock of the situation by visiting the site of the incident and Wellington Hospital.
The mortal remains of the deceased will be brought to Delhi today in Air Force plane. General Bipin Rawat will be accorded full military honors and other officers too will be cremated as per the military protocol. Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in the Military Hospital at Wellington and all efforts are being made to save his life.
A tri Service inquiry regarding the incident has been ordered by Indian Air Force, headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.