25 students trapped in Tamil Nadu forest fire; 12 rescued

Source: PTI ... Photo credit: The Hindu | By I.G. Bhatkali | Published on 11th March 2018, 9:27 PM | National News |

Theni (PTI): A sudden forest fire trapped around 25 students on a mountain climbing training camp today trapped in Kurangani hills in this 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.

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.

A medical team had been sent to the spot and employees of a nearby private tea estate were also assisting in the rescue operations, she said quoting the collector.

Kurangani hills is located near Bodinayakanur in southern Tamil Nadu.

Officials here said twelve of the students had been rescued by the local tribals and fire and rescue service and forest personnel and efforts were on to evacuate others.

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.

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