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Indian Defence Staff chief, wife among 13 killed in copter crash

Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat in Kolkata on December 14, 2020 [DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images]
Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat in Kolkata on December 14, 2020 [DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images]

Indian Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat and his wife are among the 13 people who died in a helicopter crash in southern Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, the Indian Air Force said and reported by Anadolu News Agency.

According to the Air Force, Rawat was en-route to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in Tamil Nadu to address the faculty and student officers, and the incident happened near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.

"Around noon today, an IAF Mi 17 V5 helicopter with a crew of 4 members carrying the CDS and nine other passengers met with a tragic accident near Coonoor, TN," the Air Force said. "With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident."

One senior defence official is currently being treated at Wellington's military hospital.

Earlier the Air Force said on Twitter: "An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident."

Indian Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, who is expected to brief parliament on Thursday, also visited Rawat's residence in the capital New Delhi.

Video footage on Indian news channels, earlier Wednesday, showed rescue workers dousing the chopper's wreckage in a forested area.

Rawat was appointed India's first Chief of Defence staff in 2019, a position established for coordination between the country's three armed services – the army, navy and air force.

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