Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday called on President Ram Nath Kovind and briefed him about the chopper crash near Coonoor that killed Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 armed forces personnel.
The President is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
Official sources told news agency PTI that Mr Singh apprised President Kovind about the accident as well as the situation arising out of it.
In a statement in Parliament, Mr Singh said a tri-services inquiry into the incident has been ordered by the Indian Air Force and it will be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Training Command.
Mr Singh said Gen Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, to interact with the student officers.
“The Air Force Mi 17V5 helicopter took off from Sulur airbase at 11:48 am yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 pm. Air Traffic Control at Sulur airbase lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 pm,” Mr Singh said.
“Subsequently, few locals spotted a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the spot where they observed the wreckage of military helicopter engulfed in flames,” he said.
The defence minister said rescue teams from the local administration in the vicinity reached the site and attempted to recover the survivors from the crash site.
“All those recovered from the wreckage were rushed to the military hospital, Wellington. Latest reports have confirmed that out of the total 14 persons on board the ill-fated helicopter, 13 have succumbed to their injuries,” he said.
The dead included Gen Rawat’s wife Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other armed forces personnel.
Mr Singh said Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in the military hospital at Wellington and all efforts are being made to save his life.
“The Chief of Defence Staff would be cremated with full military honours,” he said.
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