Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Forest fire in south India kills nine hikers at popular tourist spot

Forest fire in south India kills nine hikers at popular tourist spot

It was a women's day special trek to Kolukkumalai peak in Tamil Nadu's Theni district that has ended on a tragic note with nine persons charred to death in a raging forest fire on Sunday.

Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami said ₹1 lakh would be given to those who were seriously injured and ₹50,000 to those with minor injuries.

"My heart is filled with grief at the untimely end that has befallen 10 members of a trekking group in the Kurankani hills of Theni district", he said in a condolence message released by the Raj Bhavan.

Speaking to IANS on phone, a Revenue Department official in Madurai said: "The injured have been admitted to hospitals in Madurai".

As summer months are the peak tourist season, the Department offices across Karnataka are flooded with applications from wildlife enthusiasts seeking permission for trekking. The fatalities include 4 women, 4 men and a child and took place due to burn injuries. Sources are saying that a sudden fire on Tamil Nadu's Forest on Sunday evening took 9 lives. According to an official, one o the group had actually paid the entry fee at the forest check post.

Palaniswami said the hikers did not have permission for the expedition.

In the backdrop of the wildfire in Theni, the forest department banned trekking in Kerala's forest regions.

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

He said that the forest department had been alerted about the fire in the morning through a system operated by the Forest Survey of India, Dehradun. "A few of them are said to be critical", he added.

Four air force helicopters and 10 commandos were involved in the rescue operation, according to a tweet by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Paramilitary personnel prepare to start a rescue mission in the Kurangani hills.

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