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15 injured in forest fire in TN

Theni, Mar 11 (UNI) Fifteen people sustained burn injuries, few of them seriously, when a group of 36 people on a trekking expedition, were caught in a forest fire atop Kolukkumalai hill in Kurangani forest area on the Western Ghats in Southern district of Theni district on Sunday.

Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev told reporters here that no casualty was reported so far. Initially, the rescue team informed that one of the trekking team members had lost life in the fire. However, it was later confirmed that the trekking team member was unconscious and given medical treatment. Once the team members were safety brought down from the hills, further details will be known, she said.

Ms Baldev said a total of 36 members, including 12 students from Coimbatore and Erode district and 24 from Chennai Trekking team, had gone to Kurangani forest area for trekking expedition on Saturday morning. The team comprised of 25 women, three children and eight men. The team stayed in an estate overnight and commenced their trekking expedition on Sunday morning. En route, they were caught in a fire.

On a tip-off, rescue teams comprising personnel from Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services Department, Police and Forest departments rushed to the hills for rescue operation. Owing to hard terrain and non-motorable condition, the rescue team was carrying the injured people to the ground. The rescue operation was hampered, owing to poor light and would begin on Monday morning.

An Indian Air Force chopper from Sulur air base had assessed the situation, based on the instruction from Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The IAF personnel would help the rescue operation on Monday.

Ten commandos from IAF were also rushed to Kurangani forest to carry out the rescue operation, official sources said.

The injured were being given treatment at the government hospital. Thirteen ambulances were kept ready to shift the injured to the hospitals, while the seriously injured would be taken to Government Rajaji Hospital at Madurai for specialised treatment, the District Collector added.
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