NEW DELHI – The Indian Air Force helicopter that crashed and killed Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and 12 others lost contact with air traffic control seven minutes before it landed and there was no distress call before it was found in flames. sent. In a forested area, India’s Defense Minister said on Thursday.

- Advertisement -

In a statement to the Parliament of India, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh did not indicate any SOS by the helicopter crew or inclement weather in the region of the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Rawat, 63, his wife and 11 Army and Air Force personnel on board the aircraft were killed in the accident on Wednesday. The Air Force said that the only survivor, Air Force Captain Varun Singh is undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital.

advertisement

Singh said a military inquiry committee started work hours after the accident. Media reports said that the voice and data recorders, black boxes, have been recovered from the site.

The Russian-made Mi-17V5 helicopter was on its way from an air force base to the Army Defense Services College when it crashed near the town of Coonoor, a hill station in Tamil Nadu. The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

- Advertisement -

Local residents tried to put out the fire and retrieve bodies from the rubble, with television images showing plumes of smoke from the rubble.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Rawat has contributed immensely in the modernization of the country’s armed forces. “His insight and outlook on strategic matters were exceptional,” Modi said.

Singh said Rawat “served the country with extraordinary courage and diligence”.

The US Embassy in New Delhi expressed its condolences, describing Rawat as “a strong friend and partner of the United States of America, overseeing a major expansion of India’s defense cooperation with the US military”.

The embassy said that in September, Rawat spent five days visiting the US as part of a counterpart visit with General Mark Milley to discuss military developments and opportunities to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

Hardline Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed condolences.

Rawat was the senior-most officer in the Indian Army and was the first Chief of Defense Staff created by the government in 2019. He was also an advisor to the Ministry of Defence.

Their primary function was to reform the military, which has struggled to modernize and improve coordination between the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

He served as the first Chief of the Army Staff and also commanded the army in Indian-controlled Kashmir and along the border with China. He was a veteran of counter-terrorist operations.