Kisan Long March, Tamil Nadu forest fire, PM Modi: Top trending stories

Theni Fire

The fire broke out Sunday when a group of 40 people, mostly college students, went trekking in Kurangini hills, some 540 km from state capital Chennai.

Sitharaman said she was responding to a request from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Palaniswami for the rescue efforts.

He also said the trekkers had not taken the permission or security for going to the deep forest area.

Those rescued by teams that had been combing the forests were taken to a hospital in Bodinayakkanur and the three children in the group are reported to be stable and not in any danger.

Speaking to the media, a trekker said: "Twenty-four people were from Chennai, of which 22 were girls and two boys".

Of the injured, five are in Theni and the rest in Madurai, he said, adding he will visit the injured at Madurai later in the day. They will carry medicines and provide medical assistance.

On the possibility of forest fire, he explained that the scorching sun and severe drought condition and the leaves frequently falling to the ground, any small fire could spread fast leading to severe damage.

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Advanced light helicopters (ALH) and 10 commandos were pressed into service to rescue those who were trapped in the fire.

According to her, three of the injured have been admitted in a Madurai hospital with minor injuries.

Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam too made a similar charge and said probe will be conducted after rescue operations.

Forest fires are uncommon in India. The state will also conduct a safety audit in its wildlife sanctuaries following the incident, said forest minister K. Raju to television reporters.

A city-based volunteer organisation, Chennai Trekking Club, is believed to have arranged the trekking expedition, which had members from Chennai, Erode and Tirupur districts.

They were expected to join the rescue operation later, Theni District Collector Mariam Pallavi Baldev said tonight. There were all treated at the Kurangani primary health centre before being were sent to the Bodi General Hospital.

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