March 22, 2018, 11:43 am IST
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Forest fire toll goes up to 10, probe on

Forest fire toll goes up to 10, probe on

S Murari, Mar 13, 2018

The toll in the forest fire in the Kurangani hills in Bodi, southern Tamil Nadu has gone up to 10 with Divya of Erode succumbed to burns in the Government hospital in Madurai on Monday. The Tamil Nadu Government has ordered an investigation into how the forest department gave permission for 36 trekkers from Chennai and Erode to go trekking when a fire was raging in part of the forest for a few days.

Divya from Erode who got 90 per cent burns in the fire died in the Madurai GH on Monday, taking the toll to ten. Seven were women and three men.

Divya’s husband Vivek died on the spot on Monday. The two got married only a few months ago. Vivek, who was working in Dubai until recently, came on vacation to get her visa to join her in Dubai. On learning about the trekking expedition he joined her. They got separated while fleeing from the fire. While the charred body of Vivek was recovered the same day, Divya was rescued with burns.

Commissioner of revenue administration K Satyagopal told reporters “ten persons are dead while 17 of the rescued were injured”. Ten escaped with minor injuries and were discharged after treatment at Government hospital in Bodi and Theni while others were admitted to Madurai GH.

Jayashree, a techie working in Chennai who got over 70 burns was airlifted from Madurai to a private hospital in Coimbatore.

Kannan, a textile worker from Erode, now undergoing treatment at Madurai GH, said that he managed to escape from the fire. But upon noticing that his friends were trapped, he went back to save them when he got caught in the fire and got 70 per cent burns.”As it was dark, I slipped and fell into into the flames”, he told reporters.

Announcing a solatium of Rs 4 lakh each to the next kin of the dead, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy said a probe was on to find out how the trekkers got permission from the forest department.

A leader of a team of 12 from Erode told reporters that they got permission from the forest officials after paying a fee. He said that the team from Chennai were following them until they got scattered after the fire.

Remote Sensing Centre director Y V N KRishnamoorthy said the forest officials in Bodi were alerted about the fire in the Kurangani hills at 2 p.m. on Sunday. It was not a major fire. But since it happened at a critical point used by trekkers, there were casualties, he said.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan said that when the fire was spotted, the Forest Survey of India was notified. But unlike Karnataka and Mahrashtra, Tamil Nadu had not shared the telephone numbers of its forest officials with the National Remote Sensing Centre.which, therefore, could not send real t ime alerts through SMS to reduce response time.


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