New Delhi: Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat was alive and able to say his name when he was rescued from the wreckage of the IAF’s Mi-17V5 chopper along with another passenger, later identified as Group Captain Varun Singh, said a fireman, who was among the first to reach the crash site in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday, the Times of India reported.
Gen Rawat was among 14 people who were onboard, including his wife Madhulika Rawat and staff members. Thirteen people died in the crash, including Gen Rawat and his wife.
The sole survivor is Group Captain Singh, Directing Staff at the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC). He is reportedly being rushed to Bengaluru in a critical condition after being treated for his injuries at the Military Hospital in Wellington.
Gen Rawat was India’s first CDS, assuming office on January 1, 2020. Previously, he was the Chief of Army Staff between December 31, 2016 and December 31, 2019.
The IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter was on its way from Sulur in Coimbatore to DSSC in Wellington where Gen Rawat, along with Chief of Army Staff MM Naravane, was slated to participate in an event. Reports said the visibility was poor following heavy fog when the crash occurred.
The cremation of Gen Rawat and his wife will be performed on Friday in Delhi Cantonment.
According to agency inputs, their mortal remains are expected to reach Delhi by a military plane from Coimbatore on Thursday, after a wreath-laying ceremony at Wellington.
The bodies would be brought to the CDS’s residence where people would be allowed to pay their last respect from 11 am to 2 pm, followed by a funeral procession which will start from Kamraj Marg to Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment.