- Last 19-second video of IAF chopper carrying CDS Rawat, 13 others before it crashed has emerged
- In the video, the IAF helicopter can be seen flying and then vanishing away in seconds
- "What happened, has it crashed?”: Locals in the video can be heard saying in the video
Last video of Mi-17 chopper carrying CDS Bipin Rawat, his wife, 12 others before it crashed Tamil Nadu's Coonoor has surfaced on social media. The chopper was flying in a hilly area and entered extremely foggy clouds with nearly zero visibility. The video was shot by locals, in which a helicopter can be seen flying and then vanishing away in seconds.
The 19-second video shows a group of people walking on a railway track and looking up at the chopper that was flying low. Soon after, the Mi-17 chopper disappeared into the thick cloud from their view, the engine of the chopper went silent.
The locals in the video can be heard saying, “Can hear a silence of the rotors having stopped towards the end…what happened, has it crashed?”
Apparently, a major tragedy was averted as the crashing helicopter fell at some distance away from the human habitation, averting possible mass casualties.
Flames from the helicopter engulfed the wooden logs and smoke billowed while the locals and rescue personnel scurried to douse the fire by using buckets and a water hose.
Mi1-7V5 is an advanced military transport chopper that has been with the IAF since 2012. Manufactured by Russian Helicopters' subsidiary Kazan, it has onboard weather radar and is equipped with the latest generation of night vision devices.
The Flight Recorder, more popularly known as 'Black Box', of the ill-fated Indian Air Force helicopter has recovered.
Gen Rawat, India's first CDS was on a visit to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course when his chopper crashed near Coonor in the Nilgiris district.
CDS Rawat was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978. He previously served as Chief of the Army Staff from January 2017 to December 2019.
The helicopter carrying Rawat and others had left Sulur IAF station in nearby Coimbatore around 11.48 am and was supposed to land at DSSC in Wellington at Udhagamandalam about 45 minutes later, official sources said, adding the mishap occurred at 12.22 pm. The CDS had earlier reached the IAF station from Delhi by an Embraer aircraft at 11.34 am.
The other victims, all from the armed forces, were identified as Brigadier LS Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitender Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek, Lance Naik B S Teja, Havaldar Satpal, JWO Das and JWO Pradeep.
Gen. Rawat, who hailed from Pauri in Uttarakhand, had last visited his native village in 2018 and had plans to build a house there after his retirement, his uncle recalled after news broke out about the death of the quintessential military commander.
His uncle Bharat Singh Rawat (70) had gone to Kotdwar for some work but returned home as soon as he heard about the accident. It is only the General's family that lives at Saina village of Dwarikhal block. The General's uncle said teary-eyed people from nearby villages offered condolences to the family. He said Bipin Rawat had offered prayers to their "kuldevata" during his last visit to the village in 2018.
The General left on the same day and had said he would build a house in the village after his retirement, Bharat Singh Rawat recalled. As CDS, Gen. Rawat was overseeing the implementation of an ambitious tri-services modernisation plan to bring synergy among the armed forces and enhance their overall combat capabilities. He had also prepared plans for jointness of the Armed Forces.
Gen. Rawat had served as the Chief of the Indian Army from December 17, 2016, to December 31, 2019. He was appointed as India's first Chief of Defence Staff on December 31, 2019.