Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Reporters: Nikhila Henry, Smitha Tarur, Navya Singh
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others lost their lives on Wednesday, 8 December, after an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor on Wednesday, 8 December.
The CDS, his wife, staff, as well as other senior officials were on board the chopper, which crashed after having taken off from Sulur in the Nilgiris, while it was heading to Wellington base.
News agency PTI has quoted Nilgiris Collector as saying that 13 of the 14 occupants of the IAF helicopter were killed. The sole survivor is male.
Meanwhile, addressing a cabinet briefing, Union Minister Anurag Thakur has said that the ministry concerned will share information on the crash.
Police sources had previously told The Quint that at least three people have died in the crash with Rawat's wife, Madhulika, reportedly among them. However, no official confirmation on the same has been received yet from the local hospital.
A further three people have been rescued so far and a search operation is underway for the others. The three rescued have suffered serious injuries and have been taken to Wellington cantonment in the district.
As per visuals shared by ANI, earlier in the day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the residence of Bipin Rawat. He was also reportedly slated to address the parliament regarding the incident.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an urgent meeting over the matter, after being briefed by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, sources said.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin has said that he is going to the spot of the military chopper crash. Sources have also said that Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari is reaching Sulur airbase.
Massive Flames, Locals Help in Rescue Operations: Visuals From the Site
The IAF added that an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident. Visuals from the site of the helicopter crash showed massive flames and locals helping with the immediate rescue operations.
Who Were On-board the Chopper?
Sources confirmed to The Quint that the chopper was carrying nine passengers, two pilots and two crew members.
Defence communication accessed by The Quint with regard to the flight manifest shows that the chopper from Delhi to Sulur was carrying CDS Rawat and his wife, as well as Brigadier LS Lidder, Defence Adviser to Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Colonel Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kumar, Vivek Kumar, B Sai Teja, and Hav Satpal.
Eyewitness Describes Scene of the Crash
Krishnaswamy, the first eyewitness to the crash who raised the alarm and informed the police, said that he saw the chopper crash into a tree, following which it caught on fire, with smoke engulfing the area.
"I heard a really loud noise and that's when I saw the helicopter approaching. As it was descending, it caught on fire. It crashed into a big tree here and immediately smoke engulfed the area. Then the entire chopper caught on fire. I immediately called the boy in the neighbourhood. He called the police and fire department," he said.
Army and police officials have rushed to the spot and rescue operations are underway.
Twitter Flooded With 'Prayers for Speedy Recovery'
Earlier in the day, Twitter was flooded with wishes for the speedy recovery and safety of Rawat, as well as others on board.