At least nine trekkers have been killed and 12 others are still trapped in a forest fire in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu's Theni district. The forest fire has been raging in Kurangani hills near Bodi since Sunday.
Earlier reports had claimed that more than 35 people including young girls were trapped in the forest fire. As of Monday afternoon, 27 people have been rescued by multiple agencies, including the Indian Air Force.
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the mortal remains of the nine deceased people have been brought back from the forest.
The trekkers are part of a Chennai-based club which organized the expedition from Kurangani to Bodi in the Western Ghats. The groups had started the trek on Friday.
On Sunday, they started to trek from Kurangani on the Tamil Nadu border. The trekkers from Chennai, Tirupur, and Erode were scheduled to reach Bodi by evening and then take a train back to Chennai from Theni. However, they got trapped in the forest fire in the afternoon.
Locals did their best to rescue a few trekkers. Several victims have suffered severe burns and injuries.
As soon as Sitharaman received the news, she deployed a few IAF choppers to help in the rescue operations.
The Health Minister of Tamil Nadu, C Vijayabhaskar, has said that 15 people have been rescued from the fire so far. "All rescued have been admitted to Bodinayyakanur government hospital for treatment. Special medical teams have been sent to Bodinayyakanur hospital," Vijayabhaskar said in a tweet.
Ambulances waiting at the foothill have been providing first aid to the rescued trekkers.