New Delhi:

Defence minister Rajnath Singh will brief parliament on the crash of an army chopper in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. The Chief of Defence Staff, Bipin Rawat, his staff and family members were on board the Mi-series chopper, which crashed in Coonoor, a spot between Coimbatore and Sulur. Four people are dead and two have survived. Their identities are not known yet. News agency ANI reported that the chopper was carrying 14 people.

Following army protocol, Mr Singh has already briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue, sources said.

The Indian Air Force has confirmed the crash. “An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the tweet read.

Rescue and relief operations are in progress at the spot, which have been made difficult by the terrain. The Tamil Nadu government has sent senior officials to the crash site. A medical team from Ooty and experts from Coimbatore are rushing to the spot.

Former army chief General JJ Singh told NDTV that bodies recovered are charred, which is making identification difficult. Those rescued have sustained severe burn injuries.

The chopper had taken off from the army base in Sulur and was on way to Wellington.

The Mi series choppers are the workhorse of the Indian Air Force and are used in high-altitude operations. They are also used to ferry VIPs, including the Prime Minister.

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