- Eyewitness claims he saw CDS General Bipin Rawat after IAF chopper crash
- He says General Rawat was alive after the helicopter crashed in hilly terrains in Coonoor
- General Rawat, his wife and 11 others were killed in the helicopter crash
IAF Helicopter Crash: An eyewitness of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crash in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor that killed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and 12 others has claimed that he saw the top defence official alive.
Shiv Kumar told India TV that he heard a loud noise and saw a helicopter going down in the hills and rushed to the spot. Upon reaching the crash site, Kumar saw the chopper split into two and engulfed in flames.
"I am trained in first aid and rescue hence decided to rush to the accident site. The helicopter had caught fire and was broken into two parts. I immediately informed the police and fire control room," Shiv Kumar said.
"I saw three people who were thrown out of the chopper due to the impact of the crash. They were injured but alive. We pulled out one of the injured persons...he asked for water. He was then taken away by the rescuers. Later, I was informed by someone that he was General Bipin Rawat," he added.
Earlier on Thursday, the flight data recorder of the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter that crashed in a wooded, hilly area near Coonoor was recovered and sent for further inspection.
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. They are likely to be taken to Delhi or Bengaluru to ascertain the cause of the crash, officials said.
The black box is expected to provide crucial data on the chain of events leading to the crash of the helicopter that went up in flames in apparently foggy conditions on Wednesday afternoon, killing 63-year-old General Rawat who was on his way to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington to address faculty and student officers, his wife Madhulika and 11 others.
(With inputs from agencies)