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CDS Gen Bipin Rawat, wife and 11 others killed in helicopter crash near Coonoor

In this file image dated Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2017, Army Chief Gen Bipin Singh Rawat along with his wife Madhulika Rawat attends the funeral of Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh at Brar Square in New Delhi. An Indian Air Force helicopter with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on board crashed in Tamil Nadus Coonoor on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Gen Bipin Rawat, India's first Chief of Defence Staff, his wife Madhulika and 11 other armed forces personnel died on Wednesday after the military helicopter they were travelling in crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force said.

The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, is currently under treatment at a military hospital in Wellington, it said.

The Chief of Defence Staff had left the Palam airbase in an IAF Embraer aircraft at 8:47 am and landed at Sulur airbase at 11:34 am. He took off from Sulur in a Mi-17V5 chopper at around 1148 am for Wellington, official sources said.

The chopper crashed around 12.22 pm, they said.

Rawat had survived a helicopter crash six years ago, in 2015, when he was a Lt General.

The Chief of Defence Staff was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Defence Services Staff College in Wellington.

Those killed in the crash included Brig LS Lidder, the military adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff, and staff officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh.

The other personnel killed are Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Havildar Satpal, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik Sai Teja.

The Prime Minister-led Cabinet Committee of Security met in the evening and paid glowing tributes to Gen Rawat, it is learnt.

It is not immediately known whether the government will appoint a new Chief of Defence Staff soon.

The mortal remains of Gen Rawat and his wife are likely to arrive in the national capital on Thursday evening and their cremation will take place on Friday in Delhi Cantonment, officials said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he was "deeply anguished" by the sudden demise Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others in an "extremely unfortunate helicopter" accident in Tamil Nadu.

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