‘I saw people burning and falling': Resident who saw CDS Bipin Rawat chopper crash

A young boy named Kumar, who lives in the Nanjappanchathiram area, rushed to call police and fire officials as soon as he saw the helicopter crashing.
Residents of the village near the site where CDS Bipin Rawat's helicopter crashed
Residents of the village near the site where CDS Bipin Rawat's helicopter crashed
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A helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and 13 others crashed in Katteri Park in Nanjappanchathiram area on Wednesday, December 8. An eyewitness on the ground recalled hearing a loud crash and watching the helicopter fall from the sky and burst into flames. He then saw three to four people falling out of the helicopter as it crashed.

“I saw the helicopter coming down. There were terrible loud sounds. It hit one tree and was on fire then itself,” Krishnswamy, the eyewitness, said. He said that the chopper hit a large tree nearby before falling to the ground.

Krishnswamy told TNM that his home is about 100 metres away from the crash site. The accident occurred about 12.20 pm after the Mi series chopper hit the ridge line and crashed into trees in the area. The site of the accident was on a Ghat road between Mettupalayam and Coonoor.

“There were plumes of smoke when I ran over. In minutes, the fire was higher than my house,” Krishnaswamy said.

He noted that a young boy called Kumar, who lives in the area, rushed to call police and fire officials. “As soon as he saw the helicopter, he called the fire service and police. Right after that, I saw someone burning and falling over. Two or three others just fell down, burning. Then I came away because I got scared,” he said.

Visuals of the accident site showed burnt parts of the helicopter and smoke enveloping the area, as rescue and fire authorities worked at the site.

According to Ramachandran, a first respondent, the IAF helicopter was supposed to land at the Wellington Gymkhana helipad around 12.20 pm on Wednesday. However, they were soon informed about the crash in Katteri Park, which took place around 10 kilometres away from the helipad.

"If military officers and other officials are arriving, fire station personnel is required to be there. The chopper won't land unless the fire personnel is there. We were already at the landing site. At around 12:20 pm, the chopper still hadn't arrived, although we were informed that it taken off though. About half an hour had passed but it hadnt arrived. Then we got the alert that it had crashed,” he recalled.

The team them quickly rushed to the crash site. “However, after a point, it wasn't possible for the fiveto six vehicle to come all the way. We walked for about 2kms. Since we rushed, we were able to save two lives at that point. We weren't able to recognise anyone. All 14 persons have been recovered from the crash site,” he said.

Nine passengers and five crew members were on board the chopper, including Bipin Rawat’s wife Madhulika. As of 3.20 pm, sources say that 11 are dead, while others are said to have severe injuries. It is not immediately known what condition of the remaining passengers. The passengers with injuries were rushed to Military Hospital, Wellington.

Along with General Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier LS Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Naik Vivek Kumar, Naik B Sai Teja, Havaldar Satpal and pilots were also on board the IAF helicopter.

Video: IAF helicopter with CDS Bipin Rawat onboard crashes 

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