Nine trekkers dead in India Tamil Nadu forest fire

Nine trekkers dead in India Tamil Nadu forest fire

The number of casualties is likely to rise as two groups of trekkers were caught in the forest fire that spread fast in the area filled with tall lemongrass.

He also said the trekkers had not taken the permission or security for going to the deep forest area.

Thirty of them, mostly students, have been rescued and taken to hospital.

Of those rescued, 18 were injured, Kandasamy said. Two people, who are in critical condition, have been transferred to a specialist hospital in the nearby city of Madurai, said R. Sedhu, a district police official. Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev on Sunday said 15 persons have been rescued and search is on for others. She said 24 trekkers from Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone to the Kurangani Hills.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, 'Sixteen Garuds with medical team walked up and reached the trapped victims at 3 am.

Forest fires are uncommon in India. "While one body was recovered earlier, the air force helicopters recovered 8 more bodies after which the search and rescue was concluded", said Theni collectorate sources.

She said some of those located to Kurangani Hills had suffered burn injuries.

A 36-member team comprising 26 women, three children and eight men started the unauthorized trek on Friday night and reached the Kerala side of the forest by Saturday.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday ordered a probe into the incident. The Indian Air Force was then called in to help with the rescue operations.

Meanwhile, Chennai police on Monday found that the office of the "volunteer" organisation believed to have arranged the ill-fated trekking expedition was closed.

Meanwhile, the mortuary at the Government Medical College hospital in Theni district witnessed scenes of inconsolable grief on Monday as family members and relatives of the nine persons, who were killed in the forest fire, were subjected to the hard task of identifying the charred bodies of the victims.

An official of Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services department told IANS that the terrain was tough and the approach to the accident spot was not motorable.

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