An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter Mi-17V5, carrying Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat crashed on Wednesday in Tamil Nadu, the air force confirmed.
“An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu,” the Indian Air Force said on Twitter.
According to Indian media, four people have died in the helicopter crash, whereas, three individuals have been rescued with severe burn injuries.
As per media General Rawat’s wife, the defence secretary, security commandos were also onboard.
Media reports said the chopper took off from Sulur Air Force Station on Wednesday afternoon.
An investigation into the crash is ongoing, according to the Air Force.
The Mi-17 helicopter, which originally entered service in the 1970s and is now widely used by defence forces all over the world, has been involved in a number of crashes.
An Azerbaijani military Mi-17 chopper fell crashed during a training mission last month, killing fourteen personnel.
In a training accident involving the aircraft in central Java in 2019, four Indonesian troops were killed and five others were injured.
General Bipin Rawat
General Bipin Rawat, the Indian army’s highest-ranking military official, was appointed to the newly created post of CDS just a day before he was supposed to step down as army chief on December 31, 2019. Gen Rawat’s new duty included overseeing the Defence Ministry’s new Department of Military Affairs.
The Modi government chose Gen Rawat as army chief in December 2015, after two senior officers.
Rawat hails from a military family that has served in the Indian armed forces for numerous generations.
The general joined the army in 1978 as a second lieutenant and has served for four decades, commanding forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir and along the Line of Actual Control with China.
He is recognized with suppressing violence along India’s northeastern border and overseeing a cross-border counter-insurgency operation in Myanmar.