West News Wire: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has confirmed that India’s defense chief General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and 11 other persons were killed after a military chopper they were traveling in crashed in its southern state.

The “tragic accident” occurred near the town of Coonoor at midday (06:30 GMT) on Wednesday, according to the IAF.

When the Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed, it was on its way from an air force base to the Defense Services Staff College. The cause of the incident was unknown at the time, but police confirmed they had launched an inquiry.

One officer, Group Captain Varun Singh, survived and is being treated in a military hospital, according to the air force.

“It wasn’t intended to be a lengthy ride,” he says, “but this is a highly mountainous region with a lot of trees.”

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Rawat was an “outstanding soldier” and a “true patriot” who greatly contributed to modernizing the country’s armed forces and security apparatus.

“His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply,” Modi said.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said Rawat “served the country with exceptional courage and diligence”.

Archrival Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, expressed his condolences on the “tragic death” of Rawat and his wife, its government said in a tweet.

Rawat, 63, was India’s first chief of defense staff, a position the Indian government established in 2019 and which he assumed last year after retiring as army chief.

He was considered close to Prime Minister Modi and was an adviser to the Ministry of Defense.

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His primary task was to overhaul the military, which has struggled to modernize and improve coordination among the army, navy and air force.



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