Tamil Nadu college students caught in forest fire, rescue operation on

Theni Fire

The rescued trekkers have been admitted to nearby hospital. The nine trekkers died of burn injuries.

Non-stop relief and rescue operations were on since Sunday evening.

A number of groups were on a trek in Theni's Bodi forest region when the fire broke out. He said the trekking team could have climbed from the Kerala side also. From Bodinayakanur, Kurangani Hills is around 12 km. The Chennai group had started to Theni on March 9, Friday.

Six of the deceased from Chennai were identified as Akila, Premalatha, Punitha, Subha, Vipin and Arun. The Indian Air Force has been working with local authorities to evacuate all trapped in the forest fire.

The increased chances of wildfire and lack of rescue facilities inside the forests are the reasons for banning trekking. Fire tenders have also reached Kurankani hills in Theni to rescue the students.

A Tamil Nadu Forest Department official had said that the organisers had not obtained any permission for the trekking mission. Some of them had their dresses in tatters and burnt. They were bad visuals. So far the cause of the fire is still not known.

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The thick smoke, heat from the high flames and poor visibility post-sunset made the rescue operations hard even as more help was expected, thanks to the instructions from Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman to the IAF and also the steps taken by Chief Minister K Palanisamy.

"We sent a team of forty forest personnel for the rescue". 15 members have suffered burns, said Baldev. "But immediately after the dawn break the helicopters would return to rescue the girls", Nirmala Sitharaman told a television channel.

The official said since the area does not have a good mobile network, full information is not available.

Sitharaman remained in touch with the District Collector and directed the Indian Airforce to co-ordinate in the rescue operations.

Earlier, a report from Coimbatore, quoting police, said two IAF "Sarang" helicopters from Sulur have left for Kurangani forest.

The district collector K Veera Raghava Rao who is at the GRH said that the chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and the health minister C Vijaya Baskar are likely to visit the patients take at the GRH later in the day. The official said the vehicles can ply only till Kurangani Hills.

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