Ten trekkers dead, 14 injured in Tamil Nadu forest fire

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

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As many as nine persons who suffered serious burns have been shifted to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai. "They should have either stopped these people from going in, considering there have been sporadic and widespread forest fire during the last few days in the region", said an official to the Deccan Chronicle.

The Kerala government on Monday temporarily banned all trekking to Kurangani Hills til the clearing of all fire lines.

Rescue efforts began Sunday, aided by the Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Management, with two helicopters helping to evacuate those stranded.

The fires were raging for the past 15 days, but the forest department had also not issued any alerts, he alleged.

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Stirring a controversy in the forest fire tragedy that took lives of 9 people in Kurangani forest near Theni in Tamil Nadu, the survivors have claimed that they had the permit to trek from the forest department.

Speaking to IANS on phone, a Revenue Department official in Madurai said: "The injured have been admitted to hospitals in Madurai".

Shivam, an expedition leader at the Bengaluru-based trekking organisation India Hikes, also stressed the need for trekking groups to receive permission to set up camp. Earlier today, 16 commandos of the Garud Commando Force and four choppers from the IAF, with one of them at standby, arrived here to commence the search and rescue operation.

The team included 25 women and three children, according to Theni District Collector Mariam Pallavi Baldev.

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Sources said a couple of officials deputed to make enquiries at the group's office at Palavakkam found it closed.

"In the forest department, we start working on fire control from March", Ali, who is also the honorary warden of the Nilgiris reserve forest, said.

Paramilitary personnel prepare to start a rescue mission in the Kurangani hills.

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