Group Captain Varun Singh was put on life support after sustaining severe burn injuries in the deadly 8 December crash that killed India’s chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 army personnel.
He was the only member who was found alive after the air force chopper crashed at a hillside in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and burst into flames. The others were declared dead immediately.
The IAF said it 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”.
The air force added that it “offers sincere condolences and stands firmly with the bereaved family”.
Firemen and rescue workers stand next to the debris of an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter crash site in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said he was “extremely anguished” by Singh’s death and added that his “rich service to the nation will never be forgotten”.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh also expressed sorrow at the death. “He was a true fighter who fought till his last breath,” he said.
Group Captain Singh, 39, was serving at the Defence Services Staff College in the cantonment town of Wellington, where Rawat and his entourage were headed for a lecture last week when the crash occurred.
He was awarded India’s highest gallantry award, the Shaurya Chakra, at the country’s Independence Day celebrations this year in August, for saving lives and preventing the crash of a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).
The Indian government has ordered an inquiry into the crash. The defence minister said in parliament that there was no indication of bad weather in the area where the chopper crashed, or an SOS signal from the crew.
The Independent, UK.