- Mi-17V5 helicopter with 14 on board
- 13 confirmed deaths
- Defence Minister , NSA and Prime Minister briefed by Indian Army & IAF
New Delhi. 08 December 2021. Horrifying news just poured in . A Mi-17V5 Indian Air Force helicopter carrying 14 officials including CDS General Bipin Rawat and his wife crashed . Crash site pictures tell a very distressing story.
News is not getting better and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be making his statement to the Parliament in ten minutes. This was a high intensity and heavy impact crash. The incident happened just ten kilometres short of the landing site at Defence Services Staff College Wellington. And the news could be worse.
Bodies recovered from the site of the crash between Coimbatore and Sulur have been taken to Military Hospital, Wellington in Tamil Nadu.
The Mi-17V-5 military/transport helicopter is designed to carry personnel, cargo and equipment inside the cargo cabin or on an external sling, drop tactical air assault forces and reconnaissance and sabotage groups, destroy ground targets and carry the wounded. It is a sturdy vehicle and also safe in which Army had placed its faith. An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident. The aircraft was being flown by the best pilots and human error seems an unlikely reason too. The ground reports do confirm bad weather.
“Today the VIP helicopter MI-17 carrying CDS General Bipin Rawat accompanied by his wife Ms Madhulika from Sulur to Coonoor crashed and caught fire short of destination. It is sad to learn that 13 passengers including General Bipin Rawat and Mrs Madhulika Rawat out of 14 on board lost their lives. The 14th passenger GP Captain Varun Singh is very serious and in the hospital. The helicopter was fully serviceable and was flown by fully qualified pilots. There are many possibilities for this kind of crash. The real cause will be known only after the court of enquiry report is available,” stated Air Marshal RC Bajpai (Retd.) who is former C-in-C Maintenance Command IAF.
“There is no doubt on the reliability of the Mi 17 V5. It is the upgraded version of the Mi 17 with more powerful engines, glass cockpit and enhanced safety features. Surprising and sad at this tragic accident,” said Lt. Gen BS Pawar (Retd.) who is former head of the Army Aviation Corps of the Indian Army.
At 15.13 PM the news coming from ground is that 11 are dead in the crash . The relief and rescue operations are on in war effort. It is 15.52 PM and the Defence minister has just entered the residence of the CDS on 5, Kamraj Marg in New Delhi to meet the younger daughter of General Bipin Rawat , who lived here with her parents. The elder daughter lives in Mumbai and is on her way to Delhi. It is 16.09 PM and the Army Chief is briefing Defence Minister of India at South Block. It is 16.40 PM and Indian Army Chief has just entered CDS’s home.
The magnitude of the crisis is clear in the fact that the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces , the President of India has cancelled all his programmes and is returning to Delhi from Mumbai.
The Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been expected to reach the Parliament and making a statement on the crash . But the latest information is that he will be making this statement tomorrow. Home Minister Amit Shah has also reached the Parliament. Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary is on his way to the crash site.
Timeline of the CDS’s journey on 8th December 2021
- 9.00 AM the CDS left for Sulur from Delhi in an IAF Embraer aircraft
- 11.35 AM reached Sulur
- 11.45 AM left Sulur for Wellington in the ill fated Mi-17 V5 helicopter
- 12.20 PM chopper crashes in Coonoor
It is 17.22 PM and 13 are confirmed dead by now. No confirmation on the fate of India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. DNA testing of many of the deceased in the crash needs to be done.
It is 6.03 PM and Indian Air Force has tweeted that the CDS and his wife did not survive the crash.
This was a developing story which ended on the saddest note for India as a nation and the Indian Armed Forces in particular. This is a joint services tragedy. ADU stands with the nation and the families of the 13 in the ill fated crash in this time of grief. Group Captain Varun Singh , the pilot is the lone survivor in the crash. ADU is praying for his recovery.