Group Captain Varun Singh: Lone survivor of IAF's chopper crash
Group Captain Varun Singh of the Indian Air Force is the only survivor of Wednesday's tragic chopper crash near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. The crash killed Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 12 others. Group Captain Singh also suffered critical burn injuries and is being treated at Wellington's Military Hospital, the IAF tweeted. He had notably had a close call last year, too.
Group Captain Singh is currently on life support at a hospital in Wellington, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in the Lok Sabha. Every effort is being made to save his life, the minister said. Reportedly, Group Caption Singh suffered 60% burns in the crash. If necessary, he will be transferred to the IAF Command Hospital in Bengaluru.
"My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this accident," tweeted Rajnath Singh. "Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh, who is currently under treatment at the Military Hospital, Wellington," he added.
CDS General Rawat and the others were traveling to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington. The CDS was scheduled to speak to the professors and student officers of the staff course. The ill-fated Mi-17 V5 chopper carrying nine passengers and four crew members was reported missing at 12:08 pm Wednesday. Initial reports say the chopper crashed due to poor visibility.
Gp Capt Varun Singh SC, Directing Staff at DSSC with injuries is currently under treatment at Military Hospital, Wellington.— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021
The Group Captain comes from a family that has served in all three branches of the military. His father, Colonel (Retd) KP Singh, was a member of the Army Air Defence Regiment. His brother, Lieutenant Commander Tanuj Singh, is an officer in the Indian Navy.
This year, Group Captain Singh was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for avoiding a mid-air accident. The cockpit pressurization of his Tejas aircraft had failed at high altitude last October. He initiated an emergency landing, but the Flight Control System failed which caused loss of aircraft control. He showed "exemplary composure and recovered the aircraft" and thus "safeguarded civilian property and population on the ground."