The Indian Air Force (AIF) confirmed the death of the country's Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, after the helicopter in which he was travelling along with 12 others crashed in a forested area in the south of the country.
"With deep regret, it has been confirmed that General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 11 others have died in the unfortunate crash" of the aircraft, the IDA said in a message on social networking site Twitter.
Captain Varun Singh, the sole survivor of the crash, "is currently undergoing treatment at the Wellington Military Hospital," it said.
General Bipin Rawat was scheduled to visit the Defence Services Staff College at Nilgiri to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today.
The Air Force helicopter, type Mi-17V5, with a crew of four and nine passengers, crashed around noon today in the Coonoor locality of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The Indian armed forces, which so far have not provided details of the cause of the crash, said in a statement released earlier in the day that "an investigation has been launched" to determine the reason for the incident.
Rawat took over as army chief in December 2016, at the height of tensions with neighbouring Pakistan following an action by Pakistani insurgents that killed 19 Indian soldiers, to which New Delhi responded with "surgical" strikes on the border and a diplomatic campaign against Islamabad.
After retiring as army chief in 2019, Rawat took up the newly created post of chief of defence staff, as well as the post of adviser to the defence ministry.
Military aircraft accidents are a constant occurrence in the country.
In 2019, an Indian military pilot died and two others were injured after his stunt plane collided with another aircraft during exercises in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, while in October 2017 at least five members of the Indian Air Force died after an M-17 helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast.
In December 2015, 10 members of the BSF Frontier Corps were killed when they crashed in New Delhi.