Lone survivor of India chopper crash that killed top general dies

Group Captain Varun Singh was among 14 people on board the IAF helicopter that crashed last week, killing the defence chief.

A man lights candles next to a poster of India's Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat at a prayer ceremony in Ahmedabad [Amit Dave/Reuters]

The only survivor of last week’s helicopter crash that killed Indian defence chief General Bipin Rawat and 12 on board has succumbed to his injuries, says the air force.

Group Captain Varun Singh was among the 14 people travelling in the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter that burst into flames after ploughing into a hillside in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Thirteen were declared dead soon after, including Rawat and his wife, but Singh survived and was placed on life support.

“The IAF offers sincere condolences and stands firmly with the bereaved family,” the air force said on Twitter on Wednesday.

In his condolence message on Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Singh “served the nation with pride, valour and utmost professionalism”.

“I am extremely anguished by his passing away. His rich service to the nation will never be forgotten. Condolences to his family and friends,” he posted.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also expressed sorrow at the death. “He was a true fighter who fought till his last breath,” he said.

Varun Singh was serving at the Defence Services Staff College in the cantonment town of Wellington, to which Rawat and his entourage were being ferried in the Russian-designed Mi-17 chopper that crashed at about noon amid heavy fog.

As India’s first chief of defence staff, Rawat, 63, led one of the world’s largest armed forces.

The Indian Air Force has ordered an inquiry into the accident.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies