Nine trekkers dead, 17 injured in forest fire in TN

Last Modified Monday, 12 March 2018 (11:38 IST)
Theni:Nine have been killed and 17 others sustained burn injuries, some of them seriously, in Country’s deadliest-ever forest fire at in Kurangani forest area on the Western Ghats in district of Tamil Nadu.told newsmen here on Monday morning that of the nine dead, six of them hailed from Chennai, while the remaining three people were the native of Erode district. The (IAF) commandoes, who were engaged in rescue and relief operations, were airlifting the bodies from the forest area in choppers to the government medical college hospital in Theni.

All the nine people, while attempting to save themselves from the fire had fell into a deep pit and died.She said the rescue teams have rescued 27 people, including minor girls and women till this morning. Of the total rescued, 17 people sustained burn injuries and were admitted to the burn ward in Government Hospitals at Madurai and Theni districts, where the condition of some of them was stated to be very critical.

A temporary helipad was erected inside the Theni government medical college hospital for airlifting the injured people from the forest for treatment.Chief Minister is rushing to Theni to console the families of the deceased, officials said.Deputy Chief Minister O.Paneerselvam and ministers were camping in Theni to supervise the rescue and relief operations.

Conservator of Forests, Madurai Circle, R.K.Jegania said the Chennai-based trekking club that had organized the expedition from Kurangani to Bodi in the Western Ghats did not get permission from the forest department for the trekking expedition. 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.

They started the trek from Kolukkumalai hills in Kurangani forest region on the Tamil Nadu border on Sunday morning and were supposed to reach Bodi by evening and travel back to Chennai. However, the team was caught in the forest fire yesterday afternoon. Their plight came to light only in the evening prompting the Central and state governments to launch a massive rescue operation.

The wildfire has been raging for the past one week in Kurangani forest and the intensity was much higher than previous years. Unaware of the forest fire, the team had trekked into the forest. (UNI)