Nine trekkers killed in India forest fire

Theni Fire

Theni district collector Mariam Pallavi Baldev on Sunday night said there were a total of 37 people-13 from Erode and Tiruppur and 24 from Chennai.

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.

On Monday, Tamil Nadu deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam took stock of the situation on the hills.

26-year-old Vijayalakshmi was among the group of trekkers which was caught in a massive forest fire in Theni district of Tamil Nadu. The department also added that fire lines would be strengthened and forest officials have been directed to be alert reported The Hindu.

As summer months are the peak tourist season, the Department offices across Karnataka are flooded with applications from wildlife enthusiasts seeking permission for trekking. Police have arrested Ranjith, 30, a local guide of the ill-fated trekking expedition and are questioning him. Had it not been for their well-timed intervention, there would have certainly been a higher number of casualties due to the the forest fire.

The group's website, splashed with photographs of hikers, didn't have details of those managing its affairs.

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It said it had 40,000-odd members and that all its activities were "free (and) expenses (were) shared equally among participants".

The condition of four patients in GRH is highly critical, said it's Dean Dr.D.Maruthu Pandian.

Health secretary J. Radhakrishnan said rescue teams of officials and health department personnel were camping in the hills. Trekking on any other route must have approval from the District Forest Officer of Theni Division. Later, the bodies were taken to Theni Medical College Hospital for postmortem.

The Indian Air Force provided 16 commandos of the Garud Commando Force and three helicopters that have been in action all day.

He said that the hikers had been returning from a tea estate when the fire broke out.

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