India’s sole survivor of helicopter crash fights for his life as country mourns victims

By Esha Mitra, Vedika Sud and Rhea Mogul, CNN

The sole survivor of a Helicopter crash kills 13 people Including India’s top military official is providing life support, officials said on Thursday, as the nation mourns the victims and investigations probe about the case continues.

According to the Indian Air Force (IAF), Captain Varun Singh is in “critical but stable condition”.

“Every effort is being made to save him,” Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told the Indian Parliament on Thursday before the legislature observed a moment of silence for the victims.

Captain Singh’s group is being treated at the Army Hospital in the town of Wellington in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where Wednesday’s helicopter crash took place.

India’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 11 other service members were killed in the incident.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter that crashed was a Soviet-designed Mi-17V-5. It took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 a.m. local time and landed in the town of Wellington at 12:15 p.m. At 12:08, air traffic control lost contact with the plane.

Defense Minister Singh, who is not related to the captain, told Parliament that locals had noticed a bushfire in Coonoor town.

“(They) rushed to where they observed the wreckage of a military helicopter engulfed in flames. “Rescue teams from the local government in the vicinity have reached the site and attempted to salvage survivors.”

The cause of the crash is still unknown and the IAF has requested a three-service investigation – a high-level task force – into the incident. The flight data recorder has been recovered from the crash site, the IAF said on Thursday.

General Rawat’s body is expected to arrive in the Indian capital New Delhi on Thursday. His family will pay their respects before cremating him on Friday with full military honors, according to the Indian Army.

The northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, the general’s hometown, announced a three-day period of mourning on Wednesday.

Rajnath Singh said the final rites for all other deceased service members will also be given the appropriate military titles.

General Rawat was appointed as Chief of Defense Staff of India in December 2019 and is the first person to hold the post. Before that, he served as Chief of Staff of the Army for nearly three years.

In a career spanning over 40 years, Rawat commanded several battalions for the Indian Army and received several awards for his service.

A statement released by the Indian Army described General Rawat as “a visionary who initiated sweeping reforms in the Indian army’s senior defense organization” and his wife as “a pattern of grace whose presence would be overlooked by all.”

Condolences for the bereaved have been pouring in since Wednesday, when Indian politicians and foreign officials issued messages of support.

“We will remember General Rawat as an outstanding leader who served his country and contributed to the US-India defense relationship,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted about his deep grief.

“General Bipin Rawat was an excellent soldier. As a true patriot, he contributed greatly to the modernization of our armed forces and security apparatus,” he wrote. “His passing has left me deeply saddened.”

Former Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army General Ved Malik called the tragedy a “loss for the country.”

“Bipin has impeccable soldier qualities, military knowledge and experience,” he wrote on Twitter. “Determined, clear and straightforward in pursuing what he believes in.”

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. Copyright Registered. India’s sole survivor of helicopter crash fights for his life as country mourns victims


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