The bodies of nine trekkers, mostly young women and men, who died in the forest fire in Theni hills have been brought to Theni, officials said. The dead included six from Chennai and the rest from Erode. Six of the dead were women.
While eight bodies were brought down in two IAF helicopters, the other one was carried by locals to the foothills. Among the dead was Vivek, an engineer who recently returned from Dubai and married Divya, a post-graduate, only a month ago. While he died in the fire, Divya has been admitted to hospital with serious burns.
Another victim was Akila, a native of Kumbakonam who was working with the TCS in Chennai.Most of them were part of a trekking team sent by the Chennai Trekking Club here. The police are looking for the owner Peter, an Italian. The name board of the club has been removed from a house in Palavakkam in Chennai.
Two women trainers accompanied the team reached picturesque Kurungani hills 15 km from Bodinaikanur on Saturday. After overnight stay in an estae, they started their return journey on Sunday morning. They got caught in the forest fire while returning.
One of the survivors said that at least of five of them while fleeing from the fire fell into a 40-ft deep gorge and died while others suffered burns. A young woman, now in hospital said that she and her husband took shelter under a huge rock while others who toppled over on them got burn injuries.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy told reporters in Salem that the climbers did not get permission from the authorities who do not allow trekking in summer as the forest would be fire prone.