Only survivor from India’s military helicopter crash dies

New Delhi, Dec 15 (EFE).- The only survivor from India’s Dec.8 military chopper crash that killed Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and 12 others succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday, the Indian Air Force said.

“(The) IAF is deeply saddened to inform the passing away of braveheart Group Captain Varun Singh, who succumbed this morning to the injuries sustained in the helicopter accident on Dec.8, 21,” the India Air Force tweeted.

Singh had suffered injuries in the chopper crash that also killed Rawat’s wife and 11 senior military officials.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation to mourn the death of the group captain.

“Group Captain Varun Singh served the nation with pride, valor and utmost professionalism. I am extremely anguished by his passing away. His rich service to the nation will never be forgotten. Condolences to his family and friends,” Modi tweeted.

The decorated IAF officer was traveling with General Rawat, the country’s first chief of defense staff, as his liaison officer for a visit to the Wellington-based Defense Services Staff College (DSSC) in Tamil Nadu.

Rawat had to deliver a lecture at the defense college when the military chopper they were traveling in crashed in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu.

Singh was receiving treatment at the Air Force Command Hospital in the neighboring Bangalore.

Rawat, 63, the top-most military commander, was a four-star general, spearheaded the country’s military modernization plan amid China’s growing influence in the region and bitter Sino-Indian border disputes.

He assumed the post in 2019 to become the country’s first tri-service commander, leading the army, the navy, and the air force.

The post that has since his death become vacant.

India has ordered a high-level tri-service probe into the crash of the Russia-made Mi-17V5 transport helicopter, one of the most sophisticated military choppers, which had 14 people on board.

“An enquiry regarding the incident has been ordered by Indian Air Force, headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh,” Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament last week.

Military aircraft accidents are common in India, which is one of the top buyers of arms and ammunition in the world.

Experts usually blame India’s aging air force fleet for the accidents.

In 2019, an Indian military pilot lost his life, and two others suffered injuries in an air collision during exercises in Bangalore, in southern India.

In October 2017, at least five members of the Indian Air Force were killed after an M-17 helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast.

In December 2015, 10 members of the Border Security Force died in a crash in New Delhi. EFE


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