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Gen Bipin Rawat’s Chopper Crashes: What We Know So Far – 10 Points

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New Delhi:
An Army chopper carrying Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, a family member, and several of his staff members, including his Defence Assistant, security commandos and other Air Force personnel, crashed at 12.20 pm in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu.

Here are the top points in this big story:

  1. It is believed 14 people were on board the Air Force’s Mi-17V5 helicopter. The Air Force has confirmed General Rawat was on board. There is no confirmation on his condition at this time.

  2. Reports at this time say five people have died and four are in hospital with severe burn injuries. News agency ANI, quoting sources, said the injured are the military hospital at the Wellingdon base. Details about the rest – who include crew members – are not known so far.

  3. The identities of those on board, and those who were found dead, is being withheld at this point. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is understood that Mr Singh will also brief Parliament, which is sitting for the winter session. The Defence Minister could also travel to Tamil Nadu later today, if needed, sources told NDTV.

  4. The chopper crashed shortly after it took off from an Air Force base in Sulur near Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore. It was heading to Wellington in Udhagamandalam, also known as Ooty, where a Defence Services Staff College is located.

  5. The crash was first reported around 12.20 pm. The defence establishment learnt of the incident from villagers in nearby Katteri who informed the district administration.

  6. The Tamil Nadu government has sent senior officials, including the Nilgiri District Collector, to the crash site. A medical team from Udhagamandalam and experts from Coimbatore are being rushed to the scene. The state’s Forest Minister is also en route. Locals are helping in the rescue ops.

  7. The crash site is in a forested area, which makes access to the wreckage difficult. Visuals showed the wreckage scattered on the hillside and rescuers at work, struggling through thick smoke and fire.

  8. Former army chief General JJ Singh told NDTV that the bodies that have been recovered are charred, which is making identification difficult. Those rescued have sustained severe burn injuries.

  9. The Air Force, while tweeting confirmation that General Rawat was on board, has also said an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.

  10. The Mi series choppers are the workhorse of the Indian Air Force and are used in high-altitude operations. They are also used to ferry VIPs, including the Prime Minister.

With input from ANI



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