IAF has ordered tri-service investigation into chopper crash, Rajnath Singh tells Parliament

The chopper took off from Sulur Air Base at 11.48 am; Air Traffic Control lost contact with the helicopter at 12:.08 pm: Defence Minister

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 9

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has ordered a tri-service investigation led by Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command, in the Mi 17 V5 chopper crash in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday in which Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 officials of the Armed Forces were killed.

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The inquiry team reached Wellington on Wednesday and started the investigation, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told both Houses of Parliament in a statement on the chopper crash.

Singh said the Air Force Mi17V5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11.48 am and was expected to land at Wellington by 12.15 pm.

The Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12.08 pm.

Gen Bipin Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, to interact with the student officers.

Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in the Military Hospital at Wellington and all efforts are being made to save his life, Rajnath said.

The Chief of Defence Staff would be cremated with full military honours. The cremation of other officials would be done with "appropriate" military honours, he said. 

Defence Minister’s full statement

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 Mi17V5 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, a 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.

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.

The Chief of Defence Staff would be cremated with full military honours. 

I, on behalf of the august House, pay homage to the deceased persons and express condolences to the bereaved families. 

 

Tribune Shorts


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