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Nine dead, 27 rescued after trekkers get trapped in forest fire in Tamil Nadu

 
9 dead in Tamil Nadu forest fire
At least nine people have died and 27 others suffered injuries after a group of about 36 trekkers were trapped in a massive forest fire that broke out in Theni district in southern Tamil Nadu yesterday.
 
Theni district officials told NetIndian over the telephone that the deceased included three men and six women.
 
The officials said that, of the 27 persons rescued, ten were safe without any injuries. The other 17 had been hospitalised with various degrees of burns, they said.
 
Apart from the fire brigade, police and other emergency services personnel, the Ministry of Defence had pressed into service Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters to help in the search and rescue efforts.
 
Efforts were on to ensure that all the trekkers are accounted for, the officials said.
 
The fire broke out when a group of trekkers, including several women, were returning from a trek organised by the Chennai Trekking Club to mark Women's Day. They were trapped on a hillock, with flames all around them. The group included 27 people from Chennai and about ten from Erode and Tirupur, sources said. They were returning to base in smaller groups when the fire started, the sources said.
 
Local people and forest officials were among the first responders to the fire.
 
Responding to a request from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palanisamy, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asked the Indian Air Force (IAF) to mount rescue and evacuation operations.
 
The IAF promptly launched efforts to evacuate those trapped in  the fire, with helicopters from the Sulur Air Base doing a recce of the area in Kurangani. Commandos from the base also reached Theni to help the local authorities.
 
The fire broke out in a remote area with no communication facilities. The thick smoke and heat from the flames and fading light hampered the rescue efforts.
 
NNN
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