General Rawat’s wife, travelling with him, was also killed.
“With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) tweeted.
The IAF had confirmed a little before 2 pm that an Mi-17 V5 helicopter with General Rawat on board had “met with an accident near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu”.
The Indian Air Force also said it had ordered an Inquiry into what happened. The helicopter crashed shortly after it took off from the Air Force base in Sulur at 11.45 am, Coimbatore, for Wellington in the Nilgiri Hills. The General was heading to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington.
It was making its descent and would have landed in 10 more minutes when it came down, barely 10 km from a road.
Videos showed steaming wreckage scattered on a hillside and rescuers struggling through smoke and fire to locate bodies. Charred bodies were pulled out from under mangled metal and fallen trees.