Theni forest fire: 9 dead; IAF completes rescue mission; Palaniswami orders probe

Aaron Brown
March 15, 2018

Chennai: A total of 27 people who got trapped in a fire in Kurangani hills, Theni district, have been rescued, according to the Tamil Nadu government. Eight persons, who were seriously injured, have been undergoing treatment and haven't yet been declared out of danger. The dead included six women; 16 were hospitalized in critical condition in Madurai and neighbouring areas and 10 others returned home after being administered first aid.

Several fire tenders have reached the spot and rescue operations are underway.

Chief minister E.K. Palaniswami said seven women and three men were killed in the fire in the Kurangani hill ranges.

His deputy O Panneerselvem, Forest Minister Dindigul C Srinivasan and top officials were overseeing the operations, on his request, he told reporters in Salem.

The State Forest Department has been directed to take all necessary precautions to prevent forest fires, the statement quoted Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as saying.

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Sitharaman remained in touch with the District Collector and directed the Indian Airforce to co-ordinate in the rescue operations. "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.

Various political parties, including the opposition DMK, on Monday, expressed concern over the death of nine people who were part of a trekking expedition, in a forest fire in Tamil Nadu and called for steps to streamline the activity. Instructed @IAF_MCC to help in rescue and evacuation. Kolukkumalai close to the Kurangini area in Theni district. The rescued trekkers have been admitted to nearby hospital.

Two teams of trekkers - one an all-women expedition team from Chennai, and another organised by a private tour operator, entered the forests for trekking on Saturday.

The reported claim of the club that the trekkers were allowed to stay overnight in the forest was not correct, officials said, adding that even the family members of forest officers were not allowed to do that.

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