Tamil Nadu forest fire: Tourist guide arrested

Theni Fire

The 36-member group - 24 from Chennai and 12 from Tiruppur and Erode districts - had reached the Kurangani hills on March 10.

"I would like to appreciate RM @nsitharaman Ji, the Indian Air Force, the Garud Commandos and the local administration for their stupendous efforts during the rescue and relief operations in the wake of the Theni forest fire", Modi tweeted.

According to the official, one person after getting admitted to the Government Hospital in Madurai got himself transferred to a private hospital and another person left for Chennai.

Police also launched an investigation after forest officials said the organisers had not obtained permission for the trek and had not informed local officials. Forest fires, natural or man-made, are common around this time, said Sadiq Ali, founder of the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust in Ooty. The Indian Air Force was then called in to help with the rescue operations.

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.

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Madurai District Collector Veeraraghava Rao said medical teams comprising plastic surgeons have been deployed to provide treatment at the Madurai Government Rajaji Hospital. The fatalities include 4 women, 4 men and a child and took place due to burn injuries.

The trekkers were caught in the forest fire in Kurangani Kozhukumalai hill ranges near Theni, some 500 km away from Chennai.

Shivam, an expedition leader at the Bengaluru-based trekking organisation India Hikes, also stressed the need for trekking groups to receive permission to set up camp.

"Forest officials could be at fault". They were supposed to return on Sunday. "Our team was already downhill of Kolukkumalai, trying to put out the fire", he said. Apart from its 15 commandos, the IAF pressed three of its helicopters in the rescue mission.

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