Gen Bipin Rawat's body to reach Delhi tonight, PM Modi to lead tributes
New Delhi/IBNS: The mortal remains of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife, and the 11 others who died in yesterday's chopper crash in Tamil Nadu's Nilgiri Hills will reach Delhi's Palam Air Force station tonight, media reports said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the tributes, ANI reported, adding that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will be present at the Palam base to receive the bodies.
The C130-J Super Hercules transport aircraft carrying the bodies is expected to land after 8 pm, according to news agency ANI.
Some family members of the Air Force personnel killed in the crash will also be present, ANI said.
Earlier today one of the vehicles carrying the 13 bodies met with a minor accident near Mettupalayam in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore district.
The vehicles were transporting the bodies to the Sulur Air Force base in Coimbatore, from where they will be flown to Delhi.
A huge crowd had of locals had gathered to welcome the convoy as it reached the Sulur base, ANI reported.
People were seen shouting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai and showering the road with flower petals as the string of vehicles turned into the base compound, the report said.
The 'black box', or flight data recorder, of the crashed chopper, was recovered. The data will be examined as part of the high-level, tri-services inquiry ordered by the Air Force. The inquiry will be led by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Rajnath Singh told Parliament.
Gen Bipin Rawat, India's first Chief of Defence Staff, will be cremated with full military honours Friday, as will all those who died.
Condolence messages have come from the US, China, Nepal, the UK, Russia, Australia, France, Pakistan, Israel, and Japan.
President Ram Nath Kovind said "the nation has lost one of its bravest sons" and Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Gen Rawat an "outstanding soldier". Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called his death an "irreparable loss".