An Indian Air Force Mi-17V5 helicopter met with an accident and crashed shortly after take off from the Army base in Sulur, Tamil Nadu. India's first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 others were killed in the crash.
The IAF chopper with General Rawat, 63, was headed for the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington, where the country's top General was to deliver a lecture at 2:45pm.
The helicopter, an Mi-17V5, had carried 9 people on board from Delhi to Sulur. The helicopter then carried 14 people from Sulur to Wellington. The sole survivor of the crash is a Captain who is stationed at the Defence Service Staff College in Wellington.
The original list of 9 passengers on board the ill-fated chopper from Delhi to Sulur included Brigadier LS Lidder, Lt. Col. Harjinder Singh, NK Jitendra, NK Gursewak Singh, Lance Naik B Sai, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Hawaldar Satpal.
The helicopter was headed for Wellington, where the CDS was to deliver a lecture at the Defence Services Staff College this afternoon. Wellington is 100 km from Sulur. The helicopter crashed just after taking off from Sulur. The Indian Air Force has ordered an immediate enquiry to ascertain the cause of the crash.
The Indian Air Force, though equipped with sophisticated planes and helicopters, is still struggling with an aeging fleet, which has been a cause of concern due to such freak accidents. In 2016 an IAF helicopter on a military drill had crashed in Uttarakhand and in 2017 seven military personnel were killed in a freak crash in Arunachal Pradesh when another helicopter was on a training sortie.