9 Trekkers Killed, 18 Injured In Theni Forest Fire In Tamil Nadu

| March 12 , 2018 , 10:45 IST

A total of 9 trekkers have been killed and 18 injured after 39 trekkers were caught in a forest fire on Sunday in the Theni forest of Kurangani hills in Tamil Nadu. The fatalities include 4 women, 4 men and a child and took place due to burn injuries. From the injured, 10 have sustained minor injuries and 8 have serious injuries.

"All rescued have been admitted to Bodinayyakanur government hospital for treatment. Special medical teams have been sent to Bodinayyakanur hospital," Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar wrote on his official Twitter page.

A Chennai-based trekking club had organised the expedition from Kurangani to Bodi in the Western Ghats for a group of 27 people from Chennai and 12 people from Erode and Tirupar. The trekking party was returning from the Kurangani hills on Sunday when they got caught in the fire.

Due to low mobile connectivity in the area, it took time for the group to call for help, and the first to help were local tribals and villagers before rescue teams could arrive. The Indian Air Force was then called in to help with the rescue operations.

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Since morning, 16 commandos of Garud Commando Force and 4 choppers from the Indian Air Force, with one of them on stand-by, have been involved with the search and rescue operations.

According to sources, it is currently the forest fire season in the dry Western Ghats, especially in the Theni and Palani hills, due to which the forest department does not allow any trekking anywhere along the ghats, hinting that the forest officials could be at fault for allowing the trek to take place.  

"Forest officials could be at fault. They should have either stopped these people from going in, considering there have been sporadic and widespread forest fire during the last few days in the region," said an official to the Deccan Chronicle.