Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan expressed his sympathies for families of the victims of the Kurangani forest fire in Theni district of Tamil Nadu. The forest fire, in which two groups of trekkers were caught, has claimed nine lives.
“Kurangani forest fire and its victims is heart rending. Those with burn injuries should heal fast. I wish them all the best for recovery and rehabilitation. To those bereived families my deepest sympathy [sic],” wrote Haasan on Twitter.
Following an appeal from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman instructed the Indian Air Force to immediately launch a mission to rescue the trekkers trapped in the famous trekking spot nestled in the hills between Kerala’s Munnar and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
The IAF pressed four helicopters and 16 Garud commandoes, who took medicines along with them, to find and rescue the trapped trekkers. By Monday morning, the force had rescued 27 of the trekkers even as efforts to douse the fire were on. Seven trekkers were hospitalised with serious burns.
The operation is expected to be over by afternoon.
#TheniFire – In a coordinated Search & Rescue effort with the State Govt and Indian Air Force, 27 of the 36 stranded have been rescued. The mortal remains of 9 have been brought back by the @IAF_MCC . @nsitharaman
— Raksha Mantri (@DefenceMinIndia) March 12, 2018
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev confirmed the deaths of nine trekkers. On Sunday, Baldev had said that 24 trekkers from the Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone up the Kurangani Hills.
Earlier, in a tweet, Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan expressed grief and shock at the loss of life of those who were caught up in the blaze.