Theni fire fallout: Politicos want trekking streamlined

Tamil Nadu 20 students caught in forest fire Indian Air Force pressed into rescue operations

The Southern Command is in touch with the Collector of Theni to assist in the rescue operations

On Sunday, Baldev had said that 24 trekkers from the Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone up the Kurangani Hills. Two people succumbed to injuries at the Government Rajaji Government Hospital in Madurai.

Police also launched an investigation after forest officials said the organisers had not obtained permission for the trek and had not informed local officials.

The Kurangani hills in Theni district, which border a forest reserve and a national park, are a popular destination for hikers and global adventure tourists.

Rescue efforts began Sunday, aided by the Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Management, with two helicopters helping to evacuate those stranded.

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.

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Speaking to IANS on phone, a Revenue Department official in Madurai said: "The injured have been admitted to hospitals in Madurai". The trekking team included 25 women, 8 men and 3 children. "I am sure the leaders of the CTC team, both Arun and Vipin died in the fire, would have certainly got the permission", he said, adding that all the expedition of the CTC would be undertaken with all the permissions.

The wildfire has been raging for the past one week in Kurangani forest and the intensity was much higher than previous years.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lauded the Indian Air Force which pressed into service its commandoes and choppers to rescue 30 trekkers as well as douse the flames, and condoled the deaths in the forest fire.

After staying overnight at an estate in Kozhukumalai, they started their return journey to the plains today when they heard about the sudden forest fire and got separated while attempting to find a safe way.

The hills are in the Western Ghats near Bodinayakanur, about 40 km from Theni. Eight commandos had already reached the top and had started dousing the fire, it said.

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