Lone survivor of chopper crash, Group Captain Varun Singh succumbs to injuries


Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the Mi-17 helicopter crash in which Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat and 12 others were killed last week, succumbed to his injuries early on December 15, the Indian Air Force has said.

“IAF 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 December 8, 21. IAF offers sincere condolences and stands firmly with the bereaved family,” it said on social media.

 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter that he was pained beyond words to learn of the demise of Gp Capt Varun Singh. “He was a true fighter who fought till his last breath. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and friends. We stand firmly with the family in this hour of grief,” he said.

The Mi-17 V5 with Gen. Rawat, his wife and 12 other military personnel was on its way from Sulur to Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington, when it crashed in the Nilgiris close to the destination. Gp Capt Varun Singh was the Directing Staff at DSSC.

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After being rescued from the crash site, Gp. Capt. Singh was taken to the Military Hospital, Wellington, and later moved to Command Hospital, Bengaluru, where his medical condition remained critical despite the best efforts. He had sustained severe burns and remained unconscious, officials said.

Paying tributes to Gp Capt Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on social media, “Group Captain Varun Singh served the nation with pride, valour and utmost professionalism. I am extremely anguished by his passing away. His rich service to the nation will never be forgotten. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti.”

In August, he was conferred Shaurya Chakra, India’s third-highest peacetime gallantry award, for exceptional gallantry as a Wing Commander in October 2020 when he was posted with a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) squadron.

On October 12, 2020, he was flying a test sortie in the LCA when an emergency developed due to the failure of cockpit pressurisation at high altitude.

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“He displayed extraordinary courage and skill to safely land the fighter aircraft. The pilot went beyond the call of duty and landed the aircraft taking calculated risks. This allowed an accurate analysis of the fault on the indigenously designed fighter and further institution of preventive measures against recurrence,” the citation said.





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Sagar Biswas

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