New Delhi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat crashed at Coonoor in Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. Gen Rawat, his wife and 11 others died in the chopper crash. The chopper was on its way from the Sulur IAF base to the Defence Services College (DSC) at Wellington when it crashed. According to media reports, Gen Rawat was just 10 minutes away from the destination when the ill-fated incident took place. He was scheduled to participate in an event later in the day where he would give a speech.Also Read - Maharashtra, Karnataka, 4 Others Among 'States of Concern', Centre Rushes Teams To Review Situation

General Rawat’s wife, his Defence Assistant, security commandos and Indian Air Force personnel were reportedly among the 14 on board. Visuals from the site of the Indian Air Force helicopter crash showed massive flames and locals helping with the immediate rescue operations. Several teams, including local military officers, reached the site for search and rescue operations. Also Read - Rajnath Singh Writes to Bengal, Tamil Nadu CMs Over Exclusion of Tableaux From Republic Day Parade

The Indian Air Force confirmed in a tweet that the Chief of Defence Staff was on the flight. He had taken a flight from Delhi to Sulur earlier today and that flight manifest had nine people. Also Read - First in India! Tamil Nadu Couple to Host Harry Potter-Themed Wedding Reception in Metaverse | Watch

Inquiry ordered

The Indian Air Force confirmed the incident on Twitter and said an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident. “An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the IAF tweeted.

Watch video of rescue work at the chopper crash site

According to reports, the helicopter caught fire after crash-landing. As soon as the local administration learned about the mishap, they rushed to the site and launched a rescue operation with the help of locals.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took stock of the situation and directed officials to rush to the site. He later briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident.

Rawat took charge as India’s first CDS on December 31, 2019 after serving as the army chief for a full three-year term. Rawat survived a Cheetah crash in Dimapur, Nagaland on February 3, 2015. He was a lieutenant general at that time.