Wildfire raged for 3 days and forest officials let trekkers in?

Evarado Alatorre
Marcha 13, 2018

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. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy said the trekkers didn't have permission from the forest department for the expedition.

Seven of the victims were from Chennai, while the others were from Erode district, he said in a statement. As many as nine persons who suffered serious burns have been shifted to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai.

Health secretary J. Radhakrishnan said rescue teams of officials and health department personnel were camping in the hills. On Sunday, Baldev had said that 24 trekkers from the Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone up the Kurangani Hills. Two of its male guides and two women organisers perished in the fire.

Around 39 people, the majority of whom were local families, were left trapped as a result of the fire, V. Baskaran, a senior police official said.

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DMK leader M.K. Stalin expressed grief over the death of the trekkers while PMK founder S. Ramadoss demanded streamlining of trekking activity. "It is the forest department's job to see that nobody enters this region, but they hardly seem to be operating", he said.

The Dhaka to Kathmandu US-Bangla Airlines flight, with 67 passengers and four crew members on board, caught fire after it careened off the runway and ploughed into a football ground near the airport, TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur said. A total of 27 trekkers were rescued from the fire in picturesque Theni district.

In a series of tweets, she said two helicopters of the Indian Air Force from its Sulur base near Coimbatore were being sent to assist in the rescue operations. "Nobody has stopped them so far", he said.

Kurangani-Kozhukumalai hills in the Western Ghats are located near Bodinayakanur, about 40 kms from here.

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