The city-based group believed to have arranged the ill-fated trekking expedition to Kurangani Hills where 11 members were killed in a forest fire, today claimed the team had received an "entry pass" to proceed with their mission.
Bodi: In a major fire accident, 9 dead bodies of trekkers were found in the Kurangani reserve forest in Tamil Nadu's Theni area. "Of the 27 rescued from the hills, 10 persons did not suffer any injuries and others suffered burn injuries", Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev told reporters.
The district administration and health department officials had been instructed to ensure best medical treatment to those admitted to local hospitals, he said.
A 36-member team comprising 26 women, three children and eight men started the unauthorized trek on Friday night and reached the Kerala side of the forest by Saturday.
The recent fire mishap in Theni district has brought grief and shock to the people of Tamil Nadu. "A few of them are said to be critical", he added.
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The State Forest Department said it will not allow any unauthorised persons to enter the forest areas, especially in areas that are prone to fires.
Independent legislator and sidelined AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dinakaran said the careless attitude of the Forest Department was the main reason for the deaths.
"We were not informed about the forest fire". Opposition parties blamed the government saying the forest fire was on for about a week and no steps were taken to put it out.
It further said there was "no organisational hierarchy in any of the activities or events organised by CTC". The IAF helicopters recovered all the bodies trapped in the hills to Theni Government hospital's mortuary.
It roughly takes about four to five hours to complete the trek from Kurangani village, which is at the foothill, to reach the Top Station, whereas two-and-a-half hours are enough for the return trip, it says.