The Indian Air Force has been able to rescue 27 of the around 40 trekkers trapped in the Theni forest fire by Monday morning. During the ongoing operations, the IAF has pressed four helicopters and 16 elite Garud commandoes to search and rescue the remaining trekkers trapped in the Kurangani forest as the fire rages on.
Seven students were hospitalised with serious burns. It is expected that the IAF will complete the rescue mission in the next few hours.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami assured that his government would take every step to rescue the trekkers. Palaniswami had requested Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to call in the armed forces to assist in the rescue mission.
Reacting to his request, the Defence Minister had on Sunday instructed the IAF to initiate a rescue mission for the trekkers, many of whom are students..
Rescue efforts had to be halted Sunday night due to darkness. According to reports, the fire spread over the hills of Kurangani throughout Saturday and reached the trekking spot on Sunday.
Palaniswami has said a detailed inquiry will be held to ascertain the situation.
According to reports quoting Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev, at least 37 people in two separate groups had reached Kolukkumalai for trekking on Saturday.
Theni is located near Madurai.