Illustration: Helicopter
Illustration: HelicopterFlash 90

Indian Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat, India's top military commander, has been killed in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force announced Wednesday. His wife and 11 others were also killed in the crash.

"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 Air Force stated.

Rawat was traveling from the Sulur IAF Station to the Defense Services Staff College in Wellington when the Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed in a forest shortly after noon.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to the tragedy by saying: "I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families."

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed his condolences to India, saying: "I share in the grief of the Indian people and the defense establishment in India. General Rawat was a partner of the IDF and the defense establishment, and contributed greatly to the strengthening of security relations between the two countries, and was even expected to visit Israel soon."