PM Condoles Victims Of TN Fire, Nepal Plane Crash

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"Responding to the request from the Hon @CMOTamilNadu on the forest -fire related issue -20 students are caught in Kurangani, Theni district".

A group consisting of 26 women, eight men and three children had travelled to Kurangani hills for a trek organised by the Chennai Trekking Club. Locals said the fire broke out at noon on Sunday.

Local agencies carried out intensive searches through Monday to determine if more people were stranded on the hills, as operations to douse the fire continued.

Vijaylakshmi, who suffered only minor injuries, was admitted to the Government Taluk Hospital, Bodinayakanur. IAF choppers were also pressed into service to trace the survivors.

On permission for the trekking expedition, the officer said the forest department will know best about possible violations. He said permission for trekking is not given in the months of March, April and May as high forest ranges are dry, with the possibility of fires spreading fast, PTI reports.

In a series of tweets, he blamed the forest department's "laxity" for 'not preventing the victims from undertaking the trekking expedition as the reason for the tragedy.

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The Karnataka Forest Department has banned trekking in forests in the State till the end of summer.

Central Portugal is battling a massive forest fire. A probe has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire, the official said.

On Monday, Tamil Nadu deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam took stock of the situation on the hills. The toll is likely to go up as doctors said that those with 40 per cent or above burn injuries may not survive.

According to the website, the CTC is a non-profit, volunteer group which organises outdoor sports, environmental conservation and social activities throughout the year on weekends and weekday mornings.

The group had been travelling in the Kurangani hills, popular with tourists, on Sunday when they became trapped. 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".

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