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India’s military chief killed in helicopter crash

Bipin Rawat’s wife and 11 other people also died in the crash in southern Tamil Nadu state.

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Smoke rises from a fire after the army helicopter crash (Bangalore New Photos via AP)

Smoke rises from a fire after the army helicopter crash (Bangalore New Photos via AP)

Smoke rises from a fire after the army helicopter crash (Bangalore New Photos via AP)

India’s military chief Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other people have been killed in a helicopter crash in southern Tamil Nadu state.

The country’s air force said in a tweet that the helicopter “met with a tragic accident”.

It said one air force officer, Group Captain Varun Singh, survived and is being treated in a military hospital.

Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati said the Mi-17V5 helicopter was on its way from an air force base to the army defence services college when it crashed near the town of Coonoor, a hill station in Tamil Nadu.

The reason for the crash was not immediately known.

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People try to contain the fire after the deadly crash (Bangalore New Photos via AP)

People try to contain the fire after the deadly crash (Bangalore New Photos via AP)

AP/PA Images

People try to contain the fire after the deadly crash (Bangalore New Photos via AP)

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Television images from the crash site showed plumes of smoke billowing from the debris as local residents tried to put out the fire and remove bodies from the wreckage.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Mr Rawat contributed greatly to modernising the country’s armed forces. “His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional,” Mr Modi added.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Mr Rawat “served the country with exceptional courage and diligence”.

The air force said an inquiry has been ordered into the accident.

Mr Rawat, 63, is the most senior official in the Indian military and the first chief of defence staff, a position created by the government in 2019.

He is also an adviser to the Defence Ministry and handles coordination and integration of the combat capabilities of the armed forces.

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Bipin Rawat and his wife were among the dead (AP)

Bipin Rawat and his wife were among the dead (AP)

AP/PA Images

Bipin Rawat and his wife were among the dead (AP)

He previously served as chief of army staff.


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