March 12, 2018
Even as death toll in the Theni forest fire touched nine, Tamil Nadu police on Monday arrested the tour operator Ramesh for conducting the trekking trip without necessary permissions.
The whole trekking trip is illegal, officials of the forest department said.
Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam declared that the tour operator had not taken permissions and clearances and trekking in this sector was banned in Kurangani Hills.
Twenty-seven trekkers were rescued by fire department, police, forest department and IAF commandoes.
“Out of the 27 rescued, 10 persons did not suffer any injuries and others suffered burn injuries,” Pallavi Baldev, Theni District Collector told media persons.
TN Health Secretary J.Radhakrishnan said of the 17 rescued, eight have been admitted in a Madurai hospital with severe burn injuries.
The remaining have been admitted in the Government Hospital in Theni and also in a private hospital at the request of the injured.
The bodies of eight trekkers were brought by Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters from the hills. One dead body was brought down earlier and taken to hospital by road. Post mortem would be conducted by the hospital following the bodies will be handed over to their relatives.
Chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami told reporters that trekking was carried out without permission from the forest department. He also said a detailed probe will be held into the ghastly incident.
During the months of March, April and May is banned completely, the chief minister said.
The trekking trip was organised by Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), which is an online group. The club was founded in 2008 and has grown into an active group with over 40,000 members.