The Telangana Forest Department on Monday issued instructions on prevention of forest fires in the State, particularly in the light of the loss of nine lives in a massive fire in Theni forest of Tamil Nadu on Sunday. Speaking to reporters, Palaniswami said the trekking expedition had been done without getting the necessary permission from the Forest Department. "Though we can't confirm the total death toll, one dead body has been brought from the hills and there are other dead bodies as per the rescue team", said health minister C. Vijayabaskar. Two people succumbed to injuries at the Government Rajaji Government Hospital in Madurai.
The district administration and health department officials had been instructed to ensure best medical treatment to those admitted to local hospitals, he said. "Without permission, they embarked on a trekking expedition", he said.
"Four men, four women and a girl child died in the fire".
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It also blamed local farmers for the fire that engulfed the area, killing some of the trekkers on a "women's trek to commemorate women's day". "They should have either stopped these people from going in, considering there have been sporadic and widespread forest fire during the last few days in the region", said an official to the Deccan Chronicle.
The order is binding on all forest areas in the state, the forest department said. Even, the defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, "Ten commandos will move to Madurai by a helicopter from Sulur Air Force base and trek to the spot in the night".
The trekkers were caught in the forest fire in Kurangani Kozhukumalai hill ranges near Theni, some 500 km away from Chennai.
Paramilitary personnel prepare to start a rescue mission in the Kurangani hills.