5 die in forest fire in southern India

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Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilar Purohit on Tuesday condoled the death of ten trekkers in a forest fire at Theni District.

Two teams of trekkers - one an all-women expedition team from Chennai, and another organised by a private tour operator, entered the forests for trekking on Saturday. On Sunday, Baldev had said that 24 trekkers from the Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone up the Kurangani Hills.

Baldev said the trekkers had camped at a place up in the hills on Saturday night and they chose to return on Sunday.

While initial reports said those trapped were students, officials later said the victims, belonging to two groups, were young women and men and three children who were on a mountain climbing/trekking training.

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"There are check-posts in the forest but many people enter through different regions", he said.

A salute to all the air warriors and other ground teams, who worked collectively to rescue the stranded trekkers. IAF choppers were also pressed into service to trace the survivors.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, officials said the forest department had suspended Jaisingh, the officer on duty when the incident occurred.

"Such fires are often happening in the Kurangani forest".

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As summer months are the peak tourist season, the Department offices across Karnataka are flooded with applications from wildlife enthusiasts seeking permission for trekking. He also praised the IAF, Garud commandos and the local administration for the rescue efforts.

With this, Karnataka became the second state to issue such orders after Kerala.

The state's forest department has been directed to take all necessary precautions to prevent forest fires, the statement quoted chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan as saying.

Theni SP, V Baskaran, said the trekkers probably picked the wrong path, which made the situation worse. The people who suffered serious burn injuries will be provided Rs one lakh, while those with mild injuries will get Rs 50,000 as compensation. They started the trek from Kurangani on the Tamil Nadu border on Sunday morning.

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