India’s defence chief, General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and 11 other people were killed after a military helicopter they were travelling in crashed.
According to the Indian Air Force on Twitter, General Rawat was on board a Russian-made Mi-17V5 chopper when it crashed in a forest near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday.
The defence chief, 63, his wife Madhulika Rawat and other officers were among 14 people on the chopper, which took off from Sulur Air Force Station.
One person with injuries is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington, India's Air Force added in a series of tweets confirming the death of Rawat and his wife Madhulika.
They were 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.
Authorities said they have opened an investigation.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said that General Rawat was an “outstanding soldier” and a “true patriot” who greatly contributed to modernising the country’s armed forces and security apparatus.
“His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply,” Modi said.
“As India’s first CDS, Gen Rawat worked on diverse aspects relating to our armed forces including defence reforms. He brought with him a rich experience of serving in the Army. India will never forget his exceptional service.”