Theni Fire: Firefighters are at the spot to douse the flame
About 30 students trekking in Kurankani hills in Theni were caught in a forest fire. Fire fighters have reached the spot to rescue the students. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also been pressed to rescue the students, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Sunday. She said the Southern Command was in touch with the Theni District Collector. Ms Sitharaman said she was responding
to a request from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami.
Here are the highlights of the fire in Tamil Nadu's Theni:
A police team from Kerala police leaves for Tamil Nadu's Theni to help with rescue and relief operations.
Seven rescued students have arrived at Theni Hospital and the district collector has met them.
Up on the Kurankani hills, there is a tourist spot called 'Otha Maram' (single tree). "That has become a tourist spot now. From Bodinayakanur, Kurangani Hills is around 12 km. From there one has to trek up to Otha Maram spot," a fire official said.
A fire official said since the area does not have a good mobile network, full information is not available. Senior fire service officials have gone there.
Fire officials are saying that the group of students who were trekking could have climbed from the Kerala side as well.
Fire service personnel reached to rescue the team of students armed with ropes, searchlights and other equipment to climb the hills. An official has said that the vehicles can ply only till Kurangani Hills.
"One of the trekking team members called 108 Ambulance Service and alerted about their situation. The ambulance service then called us," a fire department official said.
The Fire Department got information about the forest fire in Theni around 3 pm a fire official said.
Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O. Panneerselvam is now on his way to Theni to meet the injured and oversee rescue operations.
A MI-17 chopper of the IAF is already on its way from Sulur to assess the situation as per sources in the defence ministry. An aerial survey will first be done to gauge the extent of damage.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said, "Aerial rescue will be at the first light tomorrow morning."
Visuals from the hills indicate at least few students have suffered injuries. However officials have not confirmed this so far.
A senior police officer told NDTV that 27 students from Chennai were on a trekking. He said "They had not obtained permission from police or forest department. As we speak now tribals and forest personnel have reached the group trapped".
NDTV's J Sam Daniel Stalin reports that around 27 people were caught in the fire. Few girls are now rescued and are trekking towards the foothills.