Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Ten dead, 14 injured in TN forest fire

Ten dead, 14 injured in TN forest fire

A 36-member team - 24 people from Chennai and 12 from Tirupur and Erode districts - had embarked on the trekking expedition and reached Kurangani hills on March 10. Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that from Monday early dawn the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters put out the blaze in a limited area to enable rescue and airlift operations.

It may be recalled the state government had said the trekkers had not obtained required permission for the expedition. He said rules were in place for entering the reserve forests for trekking expeditions, but the trekking team caught in the fire tragedy had undertaken the expedition without the mandatory permission from the forest officials.

"Such fires are often happening in the Kurangani forest".

As the enormity of the situation unfolded, Palaniswami tonight said rescue operations were underway on a war footing and the state had sought two helicopters from the Defence Ministry.

Describing both trekking expeditions as illegal, CM Edappadi K Palaniswami announced a probe into it and offered compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to families of those killed in the inferno.

In the wake of the forest fire near Kurangani hills of Tamil Nadu, trekking in the area has been temporarily prohibited.

The ban was issued as directed by the Chief Secretary after several people, including men, women and child, of a 37-member group died due to burn injuries. According to an official, one o the group had actually paid the entry fee at the forest check post. "Nobody has stopped them so far", he said.

The district administration and health department officials had been instructed to ensure best medical treatment to those admitted to local hospitals, he said. Also, the most of the trekkers were mostly students and were caught in a massive forest fire in Theni district. "Our team was already downhill of Kolukkumalai, trying to put out the fire", he said. "It will definitely take time", she said when asked about the time-frame for rescuing all.

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