New Delhi, India | Xinhua | A helicopter carrying India’s Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and other officials crashed Wednesday in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, officials said.
The helicopter crashed at Nilgiris district’s Coonoor area, about 538 km southwest of Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu.
Officials have not confirmed casualties citing sensitivity and protocol reason.
However, local media reports said four bodies have been retrieved, and three others have been seriously injured.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has confirmed that Rawat was on board at the time of the crash.
“An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu,” IAF in a brief statement said. “An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.”
Local television news agency Asian News International (ANI) said around 14 people including nine passengers and five crew members were on board, adding that Rawat’s wife was also accompanying him.
Reports said the helicopter had taken off from the Sulur air base in Coimbatore and was on its way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington in Nilgiris when the crash took place.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
Photographs and television footage aired on local news channels showed the helicopter wreckage, along with thick smoke and fire on the spot. TV footage also showed the injured or dead being carried from the spot through a steep slope.
Many locals have assembled at the spot and were helping in dousing the flame.
Police and local government officials in Tamil Nadu have rushed to the spot, officials said.