10 dead in Kurangani forest fire: Tamil Nadu CM

Tamil Nadu At least 20 college students caught in forest fire Air Force to help rescue them

A forest fire that broke out in the Western Ghats trapping a team of hikers has left 10 people dead, the Tamil Nadu government said on Monday, as an expedition turned into a nightmare for a three dozen-strong group that included women and children.

Using the Global Positioning System location obtained during the aerial survey on Sunday, a team of 35 IAF personnel including a medical team were deployed to Bodi from Sulur Air Base, while 16 commandos of the Garud Commando Force went afoot along with the local team across the hilly terrains at 5 am on Monday. Also, the Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev said that the search was on for others and will try their best to cooperate with search teams.

Splashed with photographs of various trekking expeditions, some clean-up drives and pictures of adventure sports besides references to several social initiatives, the website, however, did not mention of any contact number, the police said.

With one person succumbing to burns at the Government Rajaji Hospital at Madurai last night, the toll in the forest fire in the Kurangani hills had gone up to 11, officials said. A report said that a trekker from Chennai, Vijayalakshmi, who escaped with minor burns was instrumental in sending SOS to the local people. Footage on television showed disturbing visuals of injured women, writhing in pain, unable to move due to their injuries. While the Tamil Nadu government announced that 10 people had been killed in the fire, numerous injured are battling for their life with burns ranging from 40% to 98%. Responding to questions, the CM said that the trekking expedition was undertaken without permission from forest department.

"We are still not sure if they had the permission or not". They were supposed to return on Sunday. He said the forest fire was reported in the Kurangani Hills for the past 15 days but the Forest Department had not issued any prior warning notice. Chief Minister K. Palaniswami ordered a probe into the incident.

Relatives of the hikers grieve outside the hospital in Theni.

After 21 sorties of firefighting and rescue operations, the six-hour long mission finally concluded at 11 a.m. The government has sanctioned permission to engage fire watchers who were missing at the location, he added.

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