New Delhi, Dec 8 (EFE).- A military chopper carrying India’s defense chief Gen. Bipin Rawat and 13 others, including his wife, crashed Wednesday in the Nilgiri Hills of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, officials said.
Several people are reported dead in the crash, as Indian defense ministry sources told EFE on the strict condition of anonymity that there were unlikely survivors in the accident.
“An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS (Chief of Defense Staff) Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu,” the Indian Air Force said in a tweet.
The IAF has begun an inquiry “to ascertain the cause of the accident.”
However, the force did not specify casualties and other details from the accident.
Indian media, citing unnamed military sources, said at least five bodies have been recovered, without specifying the identity of the dead.
Social media videos allegedly from the site of the accident showed the chopper turned into a mangled wreck with the bodies of its passengers burnt beyond recognition.
Various Indian media outlets citing unnamed sources said 14 people were on board the helicopter, including Rawat’s wife Madhulika, and several top military commanders.
The chopper was heading to the Wellington defense establishment in the southern state when it crashed in the hilly area.
Indian broadcaster NDTV showed disturbing images of wreckage and burnt human bodies in the hills as rescuers struggled their way through thick smoke and flames of fire.
Rawat, 63, took as India’s first tri-services chief, or the Chief of Defense Staff, in December 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi created the position to integrate the three services — the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.
Rawat with four decades of service had earlier served as the chief of the Indian Army.
Defense aircraft accidents are common in India, one of the top buyers of arms and ammunition in the world.
In 2019, an Indian military pilot was killed and two others were injured 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 were killed in a crash in New Delhi. EFE