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Theni Forest Fire: 9 of Trekking Expedition Killed in Tamil Nadu, Some Still Trapped

While initial reports said those trapped were students, officials later said the victims, belonging to two groups, were young women and men and three children who were on a mountain climbing/trekking training.

Updated:March 12, 2018, 11:14 AM IST
Theni Forest Fire: 9 of Trekking Expedition Killed in Tamil Nadu, Some Still Trapped
Theni (Tamil Nadu): Nine people, who were part of a trekking expedition, have been killed in a forest fire in the Western Ghats, the Tamil Nadu government said on Monday.

"Nine persons are dead, while 17 of the rescued have been hospitalised and 10 did not require hospitalisation," Commissioner of Revenue Administration K Sathyagopal told PTI. Among the dead, six were from Chennai and three from Erode, local police said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister K Palaniswami is rushing to Theni to oversee rescue operations.

A 36-member team — 24 people from Chennai and 12 from Tiruppur and Erode districts — on a trekking expedition reached Kurangani hills on March 10. The team included 25 women and three children, according to Theni District Collector Mariam Pallavi Baldev.

“The number of people rescued now stands at 27. People with serious burn injuries have been shifted to Madurai hospital for specialised treatment,” said Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar.

Four helicopters of the IAF and their 10 commandos are involved in the rescue operation, according to a tweet by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said rescue teams comprising officials and health department personnel were camping in the hills.

Besides the IAF which has deployed four choppers from its Sulur Air base in Coimbatore, personnel drawn from fire and rescue and forest departments, police, and local officials are involved in the rescue operations assisted by local tribals and employees of nearby tea estates.

According to Pallavi Baldev, the trekkers after staying overnight at an estate in Kozhukumalai started their return journey to the plains on Sunday morning when they heard about the sudden forest fire and got separated while attempting to find a safe way.

Kurangani-Kozhukumalai hills in the Western Ghats are located near Bodinayakanur, about 40 kms from here. State health minister C Vijayabhaskar said the injured trekkers were received at Kurangani by a medical team.

"There is a medical team. Nine patients have already been shifted to Government Hospital in Bodi and they are all stable," he told reporters.

The minister said one of the injured identified as Anu Nithya sustained 90% burns injury, while other two Ilakiya and Sabitha have got 15-20 per cent burn injuries.

Madurai District Collector Veeraraghava Rao said medical teams comprising plastic surgeons have been deployed to provide treatment at the Madurai Government Rajaji Hospital.

A defence press note said 16 Garud commandos were in action from the morning.

Eight commandos had already reached the top and had started dousing the fire, it said.

One helicopter completed the first round of action and continuing it, the release said, the fire was still razing. Four choppers had been pressed into service.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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