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India: Top Military Chief Among 13 Killed In Helicopter Crash

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A helicopter carrying India’s Defense Chief General Bipin Rawat, who was the country’s highest ranking military official, was killed Wednesday in a crash of an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter that was carrying 14 people in southern India. It is reported there was one survivor.

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Rawat was India’s first chief of defense staff, a position that the government established in 2019, and was seen as close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 63-year-old was traveling in a Russian-made Mi-17 chopper that “met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force initially said on Twitter.

“Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat died along with his wife, Madhulika Rawat,” the IAF said via Twitter, according to CNN, which added that, “The helicopter, which had a crew of four, crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu state while en route from Sulur to the town of Wellington in Tamil Nadu.”

The New York Times noted that, “the loss of General Rawat, who as the chief of defense staff coordinated the various wings of India’s armed forces, comes at a particularly strained moment as India’s military finds itself stretched by threats on two of its borders as well as the impact of a slowing economy.”

Rawat was accompanied by his wife, a Defence Assistant, security commandos as well as IAF pilots on the army helicopter.

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