IAF officer Rana Pratap Das from Odisha among 13 killed in Coonoor chopper crash

Bhubaneswar: Indian Air Force (IAF) officer Rana Pratap Das from Odisha is among the 13 persons, including CDS General Bipin Rawat, who died in the tragic chopper crash in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor, yesterday.

Hailing from Krushnachandrapur village under Kundala panchayat of Talcher area, Das, who was a Junior Warrant Officer in the IAF, had been serving the nation for the last 12 years.

Other Indian Air Force personnel who lost their lives in the mishap are Wing Commander PS Chauhan, Squadron Leader K Singh and Junior Warrant Officer Pradeep A.

Worth mentioning, General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 11 others died in the helicopter crash.

Gen Rawat was on a visit to the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Nilgiri Hills to address the faculty and student officers of the staff course.

Out of the 14 people onboard the chopper, Group Captain Varun Singh, Directing Staff at the Defence Services Staff College, is currently undergoing treatment at the Military Hospital in Wellington.

Singh, along with his wife and seven staff, boarded a flight at Delhi for the Sulur IAF base near Coimbatore at 8:47. They landed in Sulur at 11:34 am. From there, they boarded the Mi17V5 helicopter at 11:48. At 12:22 pm, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) lost contact with the chopper, which crashed in a forest area around 7 km from Coonoor.

The IAF said a Court of Inquiry has been ordered into the accident. The report is expected in one month.

General Rawat, 63, took charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff on January 1, 2020. The position was created to integrate the three services — Army, Navy and Air Force. The CDS is mandated to facilitate integration, ensure best economical use of resources allocated to the armed forces and bring uniformity in the procurement procedure.

Later, he was also appointed as the head of the newly-created Department of Military Affairs.

On December 17, 2016, the government had appointed him as the 27th Chief of the Army Staff. He took charge on December 31, 2016, after the retirement of General Dalbir Singh Suhag.

General Rawat was also the Principal Military Advisor to the Defence Minister on all tri-services matters.

(With IANS inputs)

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