Copter crash: Army officer equates local villagers to God

The Indian Army on Monday thanked the locals here who were involved in rescue activities after the IAF helicopter carrying the late CDS General Bipin Rawat crashed here, killing 13 of the 14 passengers last week, saying the villagers were like ‘God’ to the victims.

General Officer Commanding Headquarters Dakshin Bharath, Lieutenant General A Arun, who heaped praises on the villagers, also said the lone survivor of the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh, was ‘battling’ for life and credited them for their efforts, saying they helped in him being rescued alive.

Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 others were killed when the helicopter they were travelling in to Wellington here crashed near Coonoor on December 8.

“Many of you helped…police and army said that but for the help of the villagers, the 14 could not have been moved to hospital on time.. the Air Force officer is alive and battling (for life at a Bengaluru hospital)… if he is there (alive) you are the reason,” he said, adding, saving a life was priceless.

“So you were like God for those 14. Thank you very much,” Lt Gen Arun said while addressing the local people at Nanjappansathiram, some of who were the first responders after the accident last week.

He also announced the construction of a shed at the village to enable its residents hold gatherings and functions.

Lt Gen Arun, who arrived from Chennai, visited the site of the helicopter crash near Coonoor.

Announcing the adoption of the village by Headquarters Dakshin Bharath, he distributed blankets, ration items and solar emergency lamps to the local people.

Earlier, the Lieutenant General, addressing a gathering at Nagesh Barracks Square in Madras Regimental Centre (MRC) in Wellington, thanked the Tamil Nadu government, particularly Chief Minister M K Stalin and secretaries of various departments over the rescue operations at the crash site. The officer appreciated the role of police, fire and rescue, electricity and revenue departments as well.

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