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New York [US], December 9 (ANI): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is deeply saddened by the death of General Bipin Rawat and expressed his heartfelt condolences on Wednesday to the families of the deceased in the helicopter crash in the Nilgiri Hills.

Guterres expressed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and to the people and government of India, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN chief, reported Xinhua.

Rawat served the United Nations with distinction and his work was fully appreciated, he said.

He was brigade commander of the North Kivu Brigade of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2008 and 2009.

Rawat, chief of defense staff of the Indian Armed Forces, and 11 other people, including his wife and his defense assistant, were killed in the helicopter crash in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, reported Xinhua.

Sixty-three-year-old Rawat took charge as India's first chief of defense staff on December 31, 2019, after serving as the army chief for a full three-year term. CDS Rawat was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978.

The sad news was confirmed by Indian Air Force on Wednesday through their Twitter handle that read, "With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat, and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident."The helicopter crashed around noon shortly after it took off from the Air Force base in Sulur, Coimbatore, for Wellington in the Nilgiri Hills.

The General was heading to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course on Wednesday.

A veteran of counterinsurgency warfare, CDS Rawat served in the most difficult terrains including northern and eastern commands. (ANI)

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