Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Ten trekkers dead, 14 injured in Tamil Nadu forest fire

Ten trekkers dead, 14 injured in Tamil Nadu forest fire

The death toll has increased to 10 after massive forest fire broke out suddenly in a hill in Tamil Nadu trapping 36 trekkers, a lot of them women, with 15 being rescued till late on Monday.

Rescue efforts began Sunday, aided by the Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Management, with two helicopters helping to evacuate those stranded. "Bodies of five women and four men were found from the hills in operations overnight, another woman succumbed to burn injuries later Monday", district official Pallavi Baldev said.

Among those rescued, seven are undergoing treatment for burns at the hospital. Nine persons lost their lives in the hills and one in the hospital.

Forest fires are uncommon in India.

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This decision was taken at a meeting of High-Level State Forest officials yesterday in Bengaluru in the wake of forest fire at Kurangini Hills in Theni district of Tamil Nadu where 10 trekkers perished. But, as per Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), the trekkers deviated from the route to escape the forest fire. Questions are now being raised as to how the forest officials allowed the group of trekkers to literally walk into the fiery death trap. Vijayalakshmi told the media that the trekkers panicked upon facing with the fire and scattered. The Tamil Nadu government has ordered a probe into the incident.

Twenty four persons from Chennai and 12 from Tirupur and Erode districts had separately embarked on trekking expeditions to Kurangani hills on March 10 in Theni district. The rescued trekkers have been admitted to nearby hospital. Speaking to reporters, Palaniswami said the trekking expedition had been done without getting the necessary permission from the Forest Department. The trekking expedition was organised by the CTC, an online group of over 40,000 members.

The news broke a little after 5 pm on Sunday when Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took to Twitter to announce that IAF helicopters will join the operations to rescue those caught in the fire.

On permission for the trekking expedition, the officer said the forest department will know best about possible violations.

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