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Helicopter carrying Indian military chief crashes

NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian army helicopter carrying the country’s military chief crashed Wednesday in southern Tamil Nadu state, the air force said.

It did not say whether Chief of Defense Staff Bipin Rawat was injured in the accident.

Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati said four people were killed and three others were injured and taken to a hospital. There was no official confirmation of the report.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh was expected to make a statement soon to Parliament.

Television images showed the helicopter in flames as local residents tried to douse it.

There was no immediate confirmation of the number of people on the helicopter. Local news channels showed a flight manifest that displayed the names of nine people as passengers, including Rawat’s wife and other senior defense officials.

The air force said in a tweet that an inquiry has been ordered into the accident.

Rawat is the most senior official in the Indian military. He is also an adviser to the Defense Ministry. He assumed the newly created post last year after retiring as army chief.

He handles coordination and integration of the combat capabilities of the armed forces.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the Mi-17V5 helicopter was on its way from an air force base to the army defense services college when it crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.

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