An Indian army helicopter carrying the country’s military chief has crashed in the southern Tamil Nadu state, the air force said.

Officials did not say whether chief of defence staff Bipin Rawat was injured in the accident.

Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati said three injured people were taken to a hospital.

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

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 Mr Rawat’s wife and other senior defence officials.

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

Chief of defence staff Rawat is the most senior official in the Indian military. He is also an adviser to the defence ministry. He assumed the newly created post last year after retiring as army chief.

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