Nine Trekkers Dead, 30 Rescued in Tamil Nadu Forest Fire, Rescue Operation on
At least nine of the 36 trekkers who got trapped in a forest fire in Tamil Nadu have died. The trekkers, mostly students, were caught in a massive forest fire in Theni district of Tamil Nadu on Sunday evening. 30 people have been rescued and taken to the hospital in Bodinaickanur. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been pressed into service for rescue operations.
While the Theni administration has ruled out any deaths, media reports suggested that five trekkers were dead. The students were climbing down the hills from Munnar in Kerala to Theni when they got trapped in the forest fire. The expedition was organised by a Chennai-based trekking club, which had not taken permission from the forest department. Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev on Sunday said 15 persons have been rescued and search is on for others.
According to Baldev, there is no motorable road to the spot where the fire raged. She said 24 trekkers from Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone to the Kurangani Hills. She said the trekking group consisted of eight men, 25 women and three children. “While the trekkers were coming down, they came across forest fire and the group got divided,” she said.
“Ten commandos will move to Madurai by a helicopter from Sulur Air Force base and trek to the spot in the night. They will carry medicines and provide medical assistance to the injured,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted on Sunday. The commandos will also check about the landing facility for the helicopter on Monday morning or decide on other ways of evacuating those stuck on the spot, including the injured, Sitharaman added.