Theni forest fire: Trekking suspended in Kerala forests

Also, she said, 24 trekkers from Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone to the Kurangani Hills.

Both the organisers came under scanner after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said that the trekkers entered the forest without taking permission. The Chief Minister has ordered a solatium of Rs 400,000 each to the families of the dead, Rs 100,000 each to the seriously injured and Rs 50,000 each to those who suffered minor injuries.

"And for this reason, a local forester is placed under suspension and departmental inquiry against a few others is on".

Meanwhile, Mr Purohit visited the injured at the hospital inMadurai and enquired about the treatment being given to the forest fire victims.

It blamed the local farmers for the fire, set at the hill base to burn down the grass that engulfed the forest killing some of the trekkers. Media reports and police said the groups comprised of students as well as employees of a company in the state capital Chennai.

The Kurangani-Kozhukumalai hills in the Western Ghats are located near Bodinayakanur, about 40km from Theni.

As summer months are the peak tourist season, the Department offices across Karnataka are flooded with applications from wildlife enthusiasts seeking permission for trekking.

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority on Monday issued a statement confirming a temporary ban on trekking in the state. The department also added that fire lines would be strengthened and forest officials have been directed to be alert reported The Hindu. He reportedly said the trekking expedition had been conducted without seeking the necessary permission from the forest department.

Multiple teams including from the fire service, police and defence forces have been pressed into service. The "Contact Us" column just mentioned an email ID while the group claimed it was a "non-profit, volunteer based group which organises outdoor, sports, environmental conservation and social activities throughout the year on weekends and weekday mornings". In a bid to escape, they ran helter-skelter due to which at least a dozen of them fell into a deep gorge and were charred, rescuers said.

Vanessa Coleman