Tamil Nadu forest fire: No permission for expedition, says CM Palaniswami

Tamil Nadu At least 20 college students caught in forest fire Air Force to help rescue them

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The Indian Air Force provided 16 commandos of the Garud Commando Force and three helicopters that have been in action all day. "Bodies of five women and four men were found from the hills in operations overnight, another woman succumbed to burn injuries later Monday", district official Pallavi Baldev said.

Authorities declared that over nine travelers died as another 30, mostly females, were saved and transferred to a hospital in an Indian forest blaze in southern state of Tamil Nadu.

"We have been warning people about the forest fire".

Forest fires are uncommon in India.

Tamil Nadu government today named a senior IAS official to inquire into circumstances leading to deaths of 11 persons in a forest fire at Kurangani hills, which has now been completely doused due to unexpected heavy rains. The trekkers who were at Kolukkumalai, which is reported to be 7,130 ft above sea level, spotted the fire around noon.

Only three of the 39 expedition members - most of whom were young professionals - were not at the scene and escaped unscathed.

The 36-member group - 24 from Chennai and 12 from Tiruppur and Erode districts - had reached the Kurangani hills on March 10.

The focus would now be on dousing the fire and preventing it from spreading to other areas, they added. Vijayalakshmi told the media that the trekkers panicked upon facing with the fire and scattered. According to a Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services official, the operation was expected to be over by Monday afternoon.

Baldev said the trekkers had camped at a place up in the hills on Saturday night and they chose to return on Sunday. They are investigating how the trekking group came in touch with him.

A medical team had been sent to the spot and employees of a nearby private tea estate were also assisting in the rescue operations, she said quoting the collector.

Also, the expedition was organized by a Chennai-based trekking club which had not taken permission from the forest department. Responding to questions, the CM said that the trekking expedition was undertaken without permission from forest department.

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