New Delhi, Dec 9 (EFE).- India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh announced Thursday a high-level investigation into the helicopter accident in which the Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, and 12 others lost their lives the previous day.
“A tri Service enquiry regarding the incident has been ordered by Indian Air Force, headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh,” Singh said during a special intervention in the parliament.
The plane crash, in which in addition to Rawat also killed his wife and several senior military officials, took place Wednesday in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The defense minister said that of the 14 people traveling in the helicopter, 13 have died while one remains in serious condition.
“Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in the Military Hospital at Wellington and all efforts are being made to save his life,” he said.
“The Air Force Mi 17 V 5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 AM yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 PM. Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 PM,” explained Singh.
The Chief of Defence Staff, whose body will be transferred to New Delhi today, will be cremated with full military honors on Friday.
In 2019, the 63-year-old soldier became the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff, commanding the army, navy and the air force. The post that has suddenly become vacant due to his unexpected death.
Rawat previously served as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff in December 2016, amid tensions with neighboring Pakistan following an action by Pakistani insurgents that killed 19 Indian soldiers, to which New Delhi responded with “surgical strikes” across the border and a diplomatic campaign against Islamabad.
Under his command, air strikes were also carried out against an insurgent training center in Pakistan in February 2019, days after more than 40 soldiers died in a terrorist attack in Indian Kashmir, attributed to a Pakistani organization. EFE