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Published On: Sun, Mar 11th, 2018

40 College students caught in Tamil Nadu forest fire

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fire-kLGC--621x414@LiveMintTHENI (Tamil Nadu ) : About 40 college students were trapped in a forest fire in the hills above Kurangani, a tourist spot in the Western Ghats of Theni district on Sunday evening.

A sudden forest fire trapped around 25 students on a mountain climbing training camp on Sunday in Kurangani hills in Theni district of Tamil Nadu with 12 being rescued so far, officials said.

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was approached by chief minister K. Palaniswami for help to rescue them and been in touch with Theni district collector, said 10-15 students were making their way to the foothills (after being rescued).

In a series of tweets, she also said two helicopters of the Indian Air Force from its Sulur base near Coimbatore were being sent to assist in the rescue operations. “Responding to the request from the Hon @CMOTamilNadu on the forest -fire related issue -20 students are caught in Kurangani, Theni district. Instructed @IAF_MCC to help in rescue and evacuation. The Southern Command is in touch with the Collector of Theni,” she said in a tweet.

Police said the students from Coimbatore and Erode were taking training in Kurangai-Kozhuku Hill area when the fire suddenly broke out around noon. District superintendent of police V. Baskaran and reveune and forest officials were taking steps to rescue the students from the trapped site.

Officials said the defence minister told the district collector to expedite the rescue operations in coordination with the other department officials including, the airforce. A report from Coimbatore, quoting police, said two IAF ‘Sarang’ helicopters from Sulur have left for Kurangani forest.

According to preliminary reports, the students were climbing down the hills from Munnar in Kerala to Theni on their own.
It is the forest fire season in the dry Western Ghats, especially in the Theni and Palani hills and the forest department does not allow any trekking anywhere along the ghats. Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam is rushing to the spot to take stock of the situation.

“From the information we have about 40 students were climbing downhill from Munnar after parking their vehicle. 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.
“We sent a team of forty forest personnel for the rescue. The first team led by an ACF has made contact with 15 persons, 14 boys and one girl,” he said adding that the other teams are on their way to rescue the remaining students. Apart from the forest personnel, fire and medical teams have also rushed to the hills for the rescue operation, he added.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) had been pressed into action to rescue several students caught in a forest fire near Kurangani hills in Theni district of Tamil Nadu, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharman said. In a tweet, she also said that the Southern Command was in touch with the Theni Collector.
One MI-17 helicopter was en route from Sulur to assess the situation and provide necessary assistance, sources in the Defence Ministry said, adding that the helicopter may undertake another operation on Monday morning, if needed. (With Agency Inputs ).The Hindu.


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