Theni fire: No information on casualty, says DC

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Trekkers caught up in a forest fire at Kurangani Hills in Theni district in Tamil Nadu are being rescued and brought to the plains, said the District Collector on Monday.

Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam who hails from Theni district and Forest minister Dindigul Seenivasan met the rescued person at the Bodi Government hospital. "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. At least 20 students are reportedly trapped in the fire. "They had entered the forests from Munnar side of Kerala and were trekking down to Theni through the forests. They were returning when the fire engulfed that part of the forest and were scattered", she said, adding that all responsible departments have been pressed into action to expedite rescue operations. It is not known what led the fire to spread despite measures being taken to control it. Search and rescue operations for the other missing trekkers are on.

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Kurangani hills are located near Bodinayakanur in southern Tamil Nadu.

Instructed @IAF_MCC to help in rescue and evacuation. He communicated that 10-15 students have been rescued. Police and workers in a nearby tea estate are also helping.

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The three children in the trekking party - Neha (9), Sadhana (11) and Bhavana (12) - have been rescued and haven't suffered critical injuries. Fire tenders have also reached the spot to rescue the students, an HT report said.

After a particular distance we have to go by walk and there is a situation were we need to lift and carry the injured physically. Firefighters, forest officials, police, have been called from neighbouring districts with necessary equipment.

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A report from Coimbatore, quoting police, said two IAF "Sarang" helicopters from Sulur have left for Kurangani forest.

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