NEW DELHI (AP) — A helicopter carrying India’s military chief crashed Wednesday in southern Tamil Nadu state, killing 13 of the 14 people on board, a senior government official said.
Chief of Defense Staff Bipin Rawat’s condition was not immediately announced.
S.P. Amrith, a senior civil administrator of the area where the crash took place, said rescuers were able to save one male passenger, who was taken to a hospital for treatment. Amrith said the helicopter had a total of 14 people on board.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh was expected to make a statement soon to Parliament.
Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati said the 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 reason for the crash was not immediately known.
Television images from the crash site showed plumes of smoke billowing from the debris as local residents tried to put out the fire and remove bodies from the wreckage.
The air force said in a tweet that an inquiry has been ordered into the accident.
Rawat, 63, is the most senior official in the Indian military and the first chief of defense staff, a position created by the government in 2019. He is also an adviser to the Defense Ministry and handles coordination and integration of the combat capabilities of the armed forces.
Rawat previously served as chief of army staff.