Army helicopter carrying senior defence officials crashes in Tamil Nadu

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Army helicopter carrying senior defence officials crashes in Tamil Nadu
Army helicopterIANS
An Army helicopter carrying about 3-4 senior officials including 'top' officers crashed near Coonoor in the nearby hilly Nilgiris district on Wednesday, police sources said.

The chopper was on its way from the Sulur IAF base to the Defence Services College (DSC) at Wellington when it crashed, they said.

The mishap happened at Nanjappanchathiram area amid heavy mist and early visuals showed the helicopter in flames. There was no immediate information on possible casualty or injuries.

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Official sources said all the injured people on board the Mi-17V5 helicopter have been evacuated from the spot of the accident.

The Chief of Defence Staff was on his way to the Defence Staff College in Wellington.

There is no immediate information on the condition of Gen Rawat.

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The IAF said a Court of Inquiry has been ordered into the accident.

One of the big questions that is facing the armed forces as well as the nation is -- how a helicopter carrying a very very important person - India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat -- crashed resulting in the death of several persons.

"Comprehensive checks of the helicopter would have been done. There would have been a standby helicopter as well. The weather condition would have been checked. In this case, if the weather at Wellington was marginal, they may have decided to make an attempt and then call it off," said a former official of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

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The official said, technical snag or weather could have been the factor due to which crash happened.

According to him, if all things were normal, the one possibility is that, as the chopper was close to Coonoor, it would have been flying low and or may be flew into the hill, to duck beneath the clouds.

The chopper will have a black box and a study of that could throw more light on the cause of the accident.

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At least four senior military officials were feared dead in an Indian Air Force helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor on Wednesday afternoon.

Locals who saw the chopper crash helped in rescue operations. An eyewitness said, it was misty, may be due to which the chopper hit a tree and went down. He said he reached the spot and saw the chopper was upside down and immediately caught fire.

Confirming about General Rawat's presence, Indian Air Force tweeted, "An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu."

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Two passengers were severely injured. Drones are being used to locate the survivors.

The force said that an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.

The chopper took off from the Sulur air base and was proceeding to Wellington when it crashed.

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Others who were in the chopper were Brigadier L.S. Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Naik Vivek Kumar, Naik B. Sai Teja, Havaldar Satpal and pilots.

The rescued suffered serious injuries and have been taken to the Military Hospital in Wellington cantonment.

The hospital is surrounded by a strong contingent of police personnel.

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According to reports, four bodies were recovered from the accident site.

A former Wing Commander of the IAF told IANS that 'based on the visuals on the news channels, the helicopter must have crashed with a strong impact and exploded'.

According to Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Dr J. Radhakrishnan a special medical team has been sent to Coonoor to provide treatment to the injured.

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TN Chief Minister may visit the injured in the hospital, sources said.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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