A military helicopter carrying Indian Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has crashed in the south of the country. At least two of the 14 people on board reportedly survived the incident, but were seriously injured.

Rawat, one of the most senior military officials in the Indian Armed Forces, was traveling on a helicopter that crashed on Wednesday in the Tamil Nadu state, the country’s Air Force confirmed. The incident with the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter happened in the Coonoor municipality and is being investigated, the military said.

An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.An Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.

According to local media, Rawat was among several senior officers on board. A Tamil Nadu minister confirmed that there was a total of 14 people on board, with seven bodies recovered so far. Two survivors were reportedly taken to the hospital from the scene of the crash and are said to be in critical condition.

Images from the scene showed what appeared to be the smoldering debris of an aircraft scattered in a wooded area next to a building. According to the Times of India, the chopper crashed in a gorge near a small habitat in a tea estate.

#Watch: Army helicopter carrying senior defence officials crashes in Nilgiris district in #TamilNadu.The chopper was on its way from the Sulur IAF base to the Defence Services College (DSC) at Wellington when it crashed, sources said.

Latest visuals from the spot (between Coimbatore and Sulur) where a military chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu. CDS Bipin Rawat, his staff and some family members were in the chopper.(Pics Source: Locals involved in search and rescue operation)

Rawat was appointed to Chief of the Defence Staff in 2020, after it was created to replace the office of the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which he held at the time. The four-star general previously served as chief of the army staff.