Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday mourned the demise of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 11 other military officials in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu."CDS General Bipin Rawat will always be remembered for his patriotism and his service to the nation. In this hour of grief, the entire House offers deep condolences to the bereaved families."He also prayed for the speedy recovery of lone survivor Group Captain Varun Singh who is under treatment at Wellington hospital.The House observed a two-minute silence as mark of respect to the departed souls.Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement in the House about the unfortunate incident of helicopter crash."With profound grief and heavy heart, I stand to convey the unfortunate news of the crash of the military helicopter in the noon of December 8, 2021, with India's first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat onboard," he said.He also said that General Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington to interact with the student Officers. The Air Force Mi-17V5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11.48 a.m. on Wednesday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12.15 p.m. Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12.08 p.m.
Singh further said that a few locals spotted a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the spot where they observed the wreckage of military helicopter engulfed in flames."Rescue teams from the local administration in the vicinity reached the site and attempted to recover the survivors from the crash site".All those recovered from the wreckage were rushed to the Military Hospital, Wellington. Latest reports have confirmed that of the total 14 persons onboard the ill-fated helicopter, 13 have succumbed to their injuries. The dead include the spouse of the CDS Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brigadier ALakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other Armed Forces personnel including the Air Force helicopter crew.The others were Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja while Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in the Military Hospital at Wellington and all efforts are being made to save his life, the Minister added.The mortal remains of all military personnel will be brought by the IAF plane by this evening.Singh also informed that a "tri Service enquiry" into the incident has been ordered by Indian Air Force, headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.General Rawat would be cremated with full military honours in the national capital, while the rest of the defence personnel will also be cremated with military honours according to their ranks, Singh said."I, on behalf of the august House, pay homage to the deceased and express condolences to the bereaved families." the Defence Minister said in the Lower House.