The Indian Air Force (IAF) has completed the rescue operation for the trapped trekkers in the Kurangani hills of Theni district of Tamil Nadu where a fire has been raging since Saturday. Nine people have lost their lives in the fire.
While there were at least 39 trekkers trapped at the popular tourist spot due to the fire, the IAF has been able to save 27. Three others reportedly escaped unhurt.
Among those rescued, seven are undergoing treatment for burns at the hospital.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said a probe would be conducted into the incident. He reportedly said the trekking expedition had been conducted without seeking the necessary permission from the forest department.
Earlier on Sunday, Palaniswami had requested Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to call in the armed forces to help in the rescue efforts. Sitharaman had promptly instructed the Indian Air Force to launch a mission to rescue the trekkers trapped in the hills between Kerala’s Munnar and Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam took stock of the situation on the hills. He met the injured being treated at the hospital.
The IAF pressed four helicopters and 16 Garud commandoes, who took medicines along with them, to find and rescue the trapped trekkers.
The commandoes found some of the bodies lying in crevices on steep rocky slopes, said Defence Minister Sitharaman.
“As slope was acute, landing of helis was difficult & rescue could only be done through winching,” Sitharaman informed on Twitter adding that she was in constant touch with the Southern Air Command.
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.