Eyewitnesses say helicopter carrying India’s top general flew through heavy fog before deadly crash

India's Chief of Defense Staff, Bipin Rawat, salutes troops while wearing uniform
India’s Chief of Defense Staff, Bipin Rawat, was killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday along with his wife and 11 other military personnel; 1 passenger survived with injuries.

  • India’s top military official, Gen. Bipin Rawat, and his wife were among 13 people killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday. 
  • Eyewitnesses told Reuters the helicopter appeared to fly unusually low and through heavy fog before crashing into a hillside. 
  • India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said Rawat was an “outstanding soldier, a true patriot.” 

India’s top military official died on Wednesday when a helicopter carrying him, his wife and 12 other passengers crashed in Southern India. 

General Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika Rawat, were en route to Defense Staff College in the town of Wellington in Tamil Nandu state with 12 other service personnel when the Indian Air Force helicopter crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.  The IAF confirmed one person survived the crash, Capt. Varun Singh, and is being treated for injuries at the Military Hospital in Wellington. 

Two eyewitnesses to the crash told Reuters that the helicopter seemed to be flying unusually low and under heavy fog before it crashed into the hillside. 

A construction worker who lives near the crash told Reuters that he sees military helicopters fly through the area often, but, on Wednesday, the aircraft seemed “louder and closer.” 

The bodies of those who died were brought to New Dehli on Thursday, where the general will be laid to rest with full military honors, according to India’s Defense Minister, Rajnath Singh. 

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Rawat was an “outstanding soldier” and a “true patriot.”

“He greatly contributed to modernizing our armed forces and security apparatus,” Modi said in a tweet. “His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply.”

Rawat was appointed to serve as India’s first chief of defense staff in 2019. He previously served as chief of army staff and had served in India’s military for more than 40 years. 

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