Home / News / India /  Group captain Varun Singh, lone survivor of IAF chopper accident, dies

NEW DELHI : Group Captain Varun Singh, the only survivor rescued from the wreckage of a chopper crash that killed India’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat and 12 others, died at a military hospital in Bengaluru on Wednesday. 

Singh was admitted to a hospital in Wellington in Tamil Nadu, with severe burn injuries on 8 December. A day later, he was shifted to the Command Hospital in Bengaluru. 

"IAF (Indian Air Force) is deeply saddened to inform the passing away of braveheart Group Captain Varun Singh, who succumbed this morning to the injuries sustained in the helicopter accident on 08 Dec 21. IAF offers sincere condolences and stands firmly with the bereaved family," the IAF said in a Twitter post.  

Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 others died in the Mi-17V5 helicopter crash near Coonoor. Rawat was on his way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington from Sulur Air Force station when the accident took place.  

Singh received Rawat at the Sulur Station from where the group headed towards Wellington in the chopper that went down.  

An enquiry panel under Air Marshal Manavendra Singh, who heads the IAF training command in southern India, has been instituted investigate the causes that led to the chopper crash.  

In August, Singh was conferred with the Shaurya Chakra, India's third highest peacetime gallantry award for displaying exemplary composure and skill when his Tejas aircraft developed a technical snag during a sortie in October 2020.  

The 39-year-old was known to be a skilled test pilot.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish at the death of Singh.  

"Group Captain Varun 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. Om Shanti," Modi said in a Twitter post.  

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is his Twitter post described Singh as a “true fighter." 

"Pained beyond words to learn of the demise of IAF pilot, Group Captain Varun Singh. He was a true fighter who fought till his last breath. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and friends. We stand firmly with the family in this hour of grief," he said.  

Singh’s Shaurya Chakra award citation said that despite being in extreme physical and mental stress in a life-threatening situation, he maintained exemplary composure and recovered the aircraft, exhibiting exceptional flying skill. 

"Faced with a potential hazard to his own life, he displayed extraordinary courage and skill to control and safely land the fighter aircraft saving hundreds of crores," it said. 

"The pilot went beyond the call of duty and landed the aircraft taking calculated risks. This allowed an accurate analysis of fault on the indigenously designed fighter and further institution of preventive measures against recurrence," it said.  

PTI contributed to this report 


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