Theni forest fire: 9 dead; IAF completes rescue mission; Palaniswami orders probe

Indian Air Force has been instructed to help in rescue operations and evacuation

Indian Air Force has been instructed to help in rescue operations and evacuation

The two groups, which went their own ways, were climbing down the hills when they got trapped in the forest fire on Sunday evening.

Police also launched an investigation after forest officials said the organisers had not obtained permission for the trek and had not informed local officials.

On Monday, Tamil Nadu deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam took stock of the situation on the hills.

Ten trekkers were killed and 17 others sustained burn injuries, few of them seriously in a deadliest forest fire at Kolukkumalai Hills in Kurangani forest area in Western Ghats in Southern district of Theni in Tamil Nadu.

The tragic incident has raised several questions including on whether proper permissions were taken from the forest department by the organisers of the trek.

PMK leader Ramadoss wondered if all the rules were duly followed by the authorities concerned and the company that arranged for the trekking expedition. Jayasingh allegedly knew about the trekking expedition of the 12-member Erode-based group at Kurangani in Theni district. "I was anguished to know that 10 persons were killed in the forest fire", he said.

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The toll in the forest fire in Theni district has risen to 11 with one more person succumbing to burns even as a forest officer has been suspended and a tour guide arrested.

According to the website, the CTC is a non-profit, volunteer group which organises outdoor sports, environmental conservation and social activities throughout the year on weekends and weekday mornings. The IAF was on Sunday pressed into action by Sitharaman after reports of the fire surfaced.

Though a statement by the CTC on Tuesday claimed that they paid a fee and were issued an entry pass, the official said the claim was false.

"There was no satellite-based forest fire alert,"Siddhanta Das, Director General forests, said".

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

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