Theni: Five Chennai-based trekkers have been reported as dead after being trapped in the fire that broke out in Kurangani Hills reserve near Theni in Tamil Nadu.
According to the reports, 39 trekkers, 25 women and 3 Children from Chennai and were on an expedition from Kurangi to Bodi in the Western Ghats while a batch of 12 others from Erode and Tirupur were on their way back from a trek to Kurangani Hiils.
Unfortunately, the group of trekkers was trapped in the fire that broke out in deep forest on Sunday.
Most of the rescued students have been rushed to a nearby hospital and a search and rescue operation has begun to find the remaining trekkers.
The trekking groups began their trek on Friday Night and reached the Kerala side forest the next day. They started their second trek from Tamil Nadu’s Kurangani hills yesterday and were supposed to reach Bodi by evening and leave for Chennai.
The Indian Air Force was approached for the search and rescue operation since no communication could be established with the groups, tribals and other villagers volunteered to help the rescue teams that took considerate time to help the trekkers trapped in fire.
Videos shot by some rescuers show the victims in a bad state crying in pain, badly burnt, bruised.
An official involved with the rescue operation said, “Forest officials could be at fault. They should have either stopped these people from going in, considering there has been sporadic and widespread forest fire during the last few days in the region.”
Steps taken by CM K Palanisamy and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman helped to rescue the trekkers in time.
Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar tweeted: “15 people have been rescued from the fire so far. All rescued have been admitted to Bodinayyakanur government hospital for treatment. Special medical teams have been sent to Bodinayyakanur hospital.”
According to the State fire services, one of the trekkers informed about the fire around 3 pm which was further taken up by the Defence Minister.
After the news was reported Defence Minister took to Twitter to announce IAF helicopters will be sent for rescue operations.
According to the sources, some of the rescued trekkers have suffered serious burn injuries due to the fire.
Forest Department personnel were assisting the rescue teams said a senior district forest official.
Rescued girls were administered first aid in the ambulances waiting on the foothills before being shifted to hospitals. Theni collector Mariam Pallavi Baldev also visited the rescued women at hospitals and assured them of all help.
According to the sources said it is the forest fire season in the dry Western Ghats, especially in the Theni and Palani hills and the forest department usually does not allow any trekking during this season , DC reported.