Operation on to rescue trekkers in TN forest fire

Operation on to rescue trekkers in TN forest fire

Kerry Wise
March 12, 2018

Theni district collector Pallavi Baldev with the rescued people.

However, by afternoon the trekkers were caught in the forest fire. Majority were students who went to Theni for trekking. "The first team led by an ACF has made contact with 15 persons, 14 boys and one girl", said H. Basavaraju, principal conservator of forests, Tamil Nadu, according to report in The Hindu. "They will survey and identify a helicopter landing place to bring down the injured people on Monday morning", she said.

Shaktikala, a yoga teacher who is among those trapped in the forest hills, had gone along with her two daughters, Sadhana and Bhavana.

Stating that the cause of the fire was not known, he said efforts would be taken to strengthen the forest area security further. "Shortage of lighting equipment has delayed the rescue operation", said the official.

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People who organise treks in this regions and senior officials told various media outlets that this was not the right time for trekking in these regions that were prone to sudden fires due to the dry conditions. The trekkers comprised 24 people from Chennai and a batch of 12 from Tirupur and Erode.

They included 25 women and three children. They arrived here for trekking on Saturday. They are coming down from the hill.

A medical team had been sent to the spot and employees of a nearby private tea estate were also assisting in the rescue operations. The official said the vehicles can ply only till Kurangani Hills.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was approached by Chief Minister K Palaniswami for help to rescue them and been in touch with Theni District Collector. "They were returning when the fire engulfed that part of the forest and were scattered", she said, adding that all responsible departments have been pressed into action to expedite rescue operations.