Tamil Nadu forest fire: Tourist guide arrested, death toll rises to 11

Forest fire in Theni over 20 college students feared trapped

Two groups of 36 tourists, mostly women, were on a trekking expedition to Karunkani hills and were caught in a forest fire.

Stalin, also the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, said he was "shocked and anguished" over the loss of lives and expressed his sympathies with the families of the victims.

Of which 12 persons are through treatment at Madurai Government Hospital and five were taking treatment at Theni Government hospital, he added.

"Special medical teams have been sent to Bodinayyakanur hospital", Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar wrote on his official Twitter page.

"While starting the trek, it is also ensured that necessary permissions are obtained and the organisers carry the documents with them".

Two teams of trekkers - one an all-women expedition team from Chennai, and another organised by a private tour operator, entered the forests for trekking on Saturday.

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In another tweet around 7 pm, Sitharaman said she spoke to the Theni District Collector who informed her that 10-15 students were making their way to the foothills.

About 14 people died and several injured in the forest fire in Theni on Sunday.

Palaniswami said the hikers did not have permission for the expedition.

The order is binding on all forest areas in the state, the forest department said. But, as per Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), the trekkers deviated from the route to escape the forest fire. By Monday morning, the force had rescued 27 of the trekkers even as efforts to douse the fire were on.

Following the forest fire in Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka forest department has issued an order "temporarily" banning trekking in the state forests until rain showers.

In Chennai, police said attempts at enquiries at the office of the "volunteer" organisation believed to have arranged the ill-fated expedition had drawn a blank. The IAF helicopters recovered all the bodies trapped in the hills to Theni Government hospital's mortuary. "Our team was already downhill of Kolukkumalai, trying to put out the fire", he said.

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