Kerala Temporarily Bans Trekking In Forests After Tamil Nadu Incident

Theni Fire

Thirty-seven people consisting of 26 women, 8 men and 3 children were part of the trek, and they were coming down the slopes from Bodinayyakanur when they got trapped in the forest fire.

Deputy CM O. Panneerselvam, Ministers R.B. Udayakumar, Dindigul C. Sreenivasan, C. Vijayabaskar, besides senior officials, and district collector, police and forest officials were camping in that area and overseeing the rescue operation.

Unconfirmed reports reaching Chennai said six students belonging to a team of trekkers are feared dead when they were caught up in the forest fire.

An injured trekker being rushed to a government hospital in Theni district on Monday. The rescue operations were over and the fire has been put off, said sources.

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. Of the total rescued, 17 people sustained burn injuries and were admitted to the burn wards in Government Hospitals at Madurai and Theni districts, where the condition of some of them was stated to be very critical. It included two groups of trekkers which included 24 trekkers from Chennai Trekking Club and another 12 trekkers from Erode and Tirupur. As of Monday afternoon, 27 people have been rescued by multiple agencies, including the Indian Air Force.

As soon as Sitharaman received the news, she deployed a few IAF choppers to help in the rescue operations.

Following the incident, the Kerala governnent today banned the temporarily banned trekking in state forest areas.

They were expected to join the rescue operation later, Theni District Collector Mariam Pallavi Baldev said tonight.

According to Baldev, there is no motorable road to the spot where the fire raged. "Normally such expeditions are not allowed at this time of the year because of recurring forest fires", said H Basavaraju, Principal Conservator of Forests, Tamil Nadu.

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