CDS chopper crash: Some unanswered questions

Wreckage of the crashed IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. Photo: PTI

Chennai: One of the big questions that is facing the armed forces as well as the nation is - how a helicopter carrying a very important person - India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat - crashed resulting in the death of several persons.

"Comprehensive checks of the helicopter would have been done. There would have been a standby helicopter as well. The weather condition would have been checked. In this case, if the weather at Wellington was marginal, they may have decided to make an attempt and then call it off," said a former official of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The official said, technical snag or weather could have been the factor due to which crash happened.

According to him, if all things were normal, the one possibility is that, as the chopper was close to Coonoor, it would have been flying low and or may be flew into the hill, to duck beneath the clouds.

The chopper will have a black box and a study of that could throw more light on the cause of the accident.

At least 13 senior military officials including General Rawat were dead in an Indian Air Force helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor on Wednesday afternoon.

India Military
Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat. File Photo: AP/ Manish Swarup

Locals who saw the chopper crash helped in rescue operations. An eyewitness said, it was misty, may be due to which the chopper hit a tree and went down. He said he reached the spot and saw the chopper was upside down and immediately caught fire.

Confirming about General Rawat's presence, Indian Air Force tweeted, "An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu."

Drones were used to locate survivors. The IAF said that an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.

The chopper took off from the Sulur air base and was proceeding to Wellington when it crashed.

Others who were in the chopper were Brigadier L.S. Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Naik Vivek Kumar, Naik B. Sai Teja, Havaldar Satpal and pilots.

Those onboard suffered serious injuries and were taken to the Military Hospital in Wellington cantonment. The hospital is surrounded by a strong contingent of police personnel.

According to reports, four bodies were recovered from the accident site and the remaining deaths were confirmed later by hospital authorities.

A former Wing Commander of the IAF told IANS that 'based on the visuals on the news channels, the helicopter must have crashed with a strong impact and exploded'.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin instructed the local administration to provide all the help needed for the rescue operation while himself rushing to the spot.

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