Theni forest fire: 8 dead, IAF join rescue operation

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At least 20 college students got trapped in Kurangani forest fire in Tamil Nadu's Theni on Sunday. The sudden spread of fire trapped them. "Operation continues", reads Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's tweet on the forest fire in Tamil Nadu.

"As of now I have not got any information on deaths".

According to her, three of the injured have been admitted in a Madurai hospital with minor injuries.

The rescue operation, carried out by police and fire teams involves over a 100 people, is still under way. "It seems they were planning to trek down to Bodi town but were trapped in the forest fire", said H. Basavaraju, Principal Conservator of Forests, Tamil Nadu.

He said the trekking team could have climbed from the Kerala side also.

Sitharaman also tweeted the status of the rescue operation from time to time. Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has rushed to the spot from Chennai.

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The attempts to locate and rescue the trekkers have been going on since 5 pm on Sunday.

A commando team from Indian Air Force (IAF) has joined the search and rescue operations.

Theni District Collector, Pallavi Baldev on Monday said that she has not received any information on the casualty in the forest fire that erupted near Kurangani hills here.

Instructed @IAF_MCC to help in rescue and evacuation.

District Superintendent of Police V. Baskaran and reveune and forest officials were taking steps to rescue the students from the trapped site. Police and workers in a nearby tea estate are also helping.

Baldev, who met the rescued persons and spoke to them, later told reporters that a 12-member group from Tiruppur and Erode and another comprising 24 people from Chennai, on a trekking camp, reached Kurangani hills yesterday. One of the students had called her father, who, in turn, alerted the forest department officials.

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