A helicopter carrying India’s most senior general has crashed and burst into flames in a forest, leaving at least 11 dead, the air force confirmed.
General Bipin Rawat was on board a Russian-made Mi-17V5 chopper when it crashed in a forest near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday, the Indian Air Force confirmed on Twitter.
The defence chief, 63, his wife Madhulika Rawat and other officers were among 14 passengers and crew on the chopper, which took off from Sulur Air Force Station this afternoon, according to local media reports.
Rawat was travelling to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to deliver a lecture when the helicopter crashed in Coonoor, which is on the flight path.
Dramatic footage broadcast on Indian news channels showed a fiery wreck at the crash site in a dense forested area the Nilgiris district.
A frantic search is underway with rescue teams at the scene as eleven people are believed to be dead, according to local media reports.
Locals joined in the effort as they were seen dousing the wreckage with buckets and pots of water before the district administration evacuated the scene.
Two defence sources, who declined to be named, said they were trying to ascertain if Rawat was among the dead following the crash near the town of Coonoor. (DailyMail)