A video emerged on Thursday, December 9, of a helicopter flying above a wooded area in misty weather, reportedly of the Indian Air Force Mi17V5 chopper that crashed on Wednesday near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, his wife, and 11 others including top defence officials were killed after the IAF helicopter crashed into the hills at Katteri Park.
In the 19-second video, shot by some people on the ground, a helicopter flies overhead, and disappears into the mist. After a while, a muffled explosion-like sound is heard, and the sound of the trademark helicopter sounds stops suddenly. The people of the video get startled by the sound, and turn around towards the sound to try and figure out what it is. “What happened? Did it fall? Did it break?” a man in the video is heard asking. “Yes,” the person who records the video is heard saying.
There is no official confirmation from the Indian Air Force whether that is the helicopter that crashed, leading to the deaths of 13 people, including Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and his wife.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, an ambulance, that was carrying the body of one of those killed in the helicopter crash, had an accident near Karamadai next to Mettupalayam. One policeman was injured in the accident. The mortal remains of the soldier were shifted to another ambulance and was taken to Sulur.
The Mi-17VH helicopter that went up in flames in apparently foggy conditions on Wednesday afternoon was transporting General Bipin Rawat from Sulur to Wellington, where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Defence Services Staff College. The CDS had left the Palam air base in an IAF Embraer aircraft at 8.47 am on Wednesday and landed at Sulur air base at 11.34 am. He took off from Sulur in a Mi-17V5 chopper at around 11.48 am for Wellington and was supposed to land at 12.15 pm. However, the air traffic control lost contact with the chopper around 12.09 pm and the helicopter crashed around 12.20 pm. 14 people were on board the helicopter, and 13 of them have succumbed to injuries. The lone survivor, Group Captain Varun Singh, is currently under treatment at a military hospital in Wellington.
On Thursday morning, two boxes, including the flight data recorder or the black box, were found after authorities expanded the search area from 300 metres to one kilometre. The boxes are likely to be taken to Delhi or Bengaluru to ascertain the cause of the crash.
Besides CDS Rawat and his wife, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other Armed Forces personnel, including the Air Force helicopter crew were killed in the crash. Their names are 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.