18 June, Monday

Some 9 dead, 27 rescued after massive forest fire breaks out in India


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Nine trekkers were charred to death in a forest fire that occurred on Sunday in the Kurangani hills of Tamil Nadu's Theni district.
The deceased include four women, four men and a child while 27 have been rescued from the fire in Kurangani hills.
Of the 27 people who were rescued, eight were are critically injured and ten have minor injuries.
A group consisting of 26 women, eight men and three children had travelled to Kurangani hills for a trek organised by the Chennai Trekking Club.
They were trapped in a fire that broke out in the region when they were returning on Sunday evening.
The Indian Air Force for the rescue operation provided 16 commandos of the Garud Commando Force and three choppers that have been in action since today morning while eight commandos reached the top as part to douse the fire.
The Theni District Collector on Sunday said that there were a total of 37 people - 13 from Erode and Thiruppur, and 24 from Chennai, in Kurangani.
"If we are informed in advance, we will give them the necessary arrangements. A simple guide will not do. There are many places in the forest that are restricted," Dindigul Srinivasan, forest minister, said.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that two helicopters will bring down the bodies of the deceased while a chopper has doused the fire.
"16 Garuds walked up and reached there at 3 am. They rescued a few people at night. At the moment, the Garuds are trying to lift the dead bodies to a higher plain," Sitharaman said.
Families of most of the trekkers reached Theni today.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Sunday met the injured at the Bodi public hospital.

He said that the group of trekkers stayed at a tea estate and were trapped in the forest fire when they were returning.

"We will provide the necessary security to people who go on treks and inform in advance," OPS said.
"There are check-posts in the forest but many people enter through different regions. We are still not sure if they had the permission or not. We have been warning people about the forest fire. Awareness programmes are also being conducted," Pallavi Baldev, collector of district Theni, said.
Actor-turned-neta Kamal Haasan tweeted his condolences and sympathy to the victims of the forest fire.

Indian Today

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