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Indian Military Chief of Staff dies after helicopter crashes in Tamil Nadu

Gen Bipin Rawat, the Indian Chief of Defence Staff, died in a helicopter crash that took place in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, along with his wife and eleven others who were travelling in the chopper. 

The Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed the deaths and said it was a “tragic accident” in a Twitter post. An investigation into the cause of the accident has been launched. 

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin immediately made a visit to Coonoor from Chennai and made inquiries regarding the incident with the army and police. 

The Mi-17V5 chopper crashed at a location that was ten kilometres away from the helipad where it was supposed to land. 

One soldier, Captain Varun Singh, survived the accident and is currently receiving treatment at a military hospital. 

Condolences to Gen Rawat began to pour in as soon as his passing was confirmed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Rawat was an “outstanding soldier” in a tweet. 

Pakistan Army Chief of Staff Qamer Javed Bajwa also expressed his condolences on the death of his Indian counterpart. 

Representatives to India from Russia, Singapore and Japan also conveyed their grief through official means. 

Gen Rawat was the first Chief of Defence Staff in India, a position which was created in 2019 that unified the leadership of the army, navy and the airforce. 

He was considered to be a close confidant of PM Modi and was in control of major operations in Indian-administered Kashmir whose provisions for autonomy was struck down in 2019. 

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