Helicopter carrying Indian defence chief crashes

The IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.

NEW DELHI - A military helicopter carrying Indian defence chief General Bipin Rawat crashed near the town of Coonoor in southern India on Wednesday (Dec 8), the Indian Air Force said.

Two defence sources said they were currently trying to ascertain Rawat's status.

"We don't know yet," one of the sources told Reuters. Both declined to be named.

Rawat was appointed as India's first Chief of Defence Staff by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in late 2019. The position was set-up with the aim of integrating India's three services — the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

The Air Force said that Rawat, who had previously served as India's Chief of Army Staff, was traveling in an Mi-17V5 helicopter.

Video footage from Reuters partner ANI showed rescue workers dousing a steaming wreckage in a wooded area.

"An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident," the Air Force said in a tweet.

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