Nine trekkers dead in India Tamil Nadu forest fire

Forest officials said the trekkers tried to take refuge inside a dried up stream but the dried grass in the stream quickly caught fire.

The Indian Air Force has deployed two helicopters and 16 commandos for the rescue operation.

During the summer months of March, April and May permission for trekking is not given as the high forest ranges are dry and there is a possibility of forest fires spreading fast, he said.

He also said the trekkers had not taken the permission or security for going to the deep forest area.

"We will provide the necessary security to people who go on treks and inform in advance", he said. Also, she added that "While the trekkers were coming down, they came across a forest fire and the group broke up".

Speaking to the media, Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev said 15 persons have been rescued and search is on for others. They had gone trekking without informing anyone and only after the fire spread the Forest Department received distress calls for help. Earlier on Sunday, 15 students trapped in a forest fire near the hills were rescued by the Indian Air Force (IAF). The fatalities include 4 women, 4 men and a child and took place due to burn injuries. Meanwhile, Chief Minister K Palaniswami is rushing to Theni to oversee rescue operations.

Actor Kamal Haasan has expressed his condolences to the families of nine trekkers killed in a major forest fire in Tamil Nadu.

It was later gleaned that the trekking team, majority of them women, had embarked on trekking as part of Woman's Day activity.

The Kerala government has since made a decision to close down all wildlife sanctuaries for a safety audit, forest minister K Raju has said.

Kurangani-Kozhukumalai hills in the Western Ghats are located near Bodinayakanur, about 40 kms from here.

According to Baldev, there is no motorable road to the spot where the fire raged. The forest department, along with the hill area authorities, can easily mark safe trekking routes, and only these should be used by trekkers.

  • Rogelio Becker