Theni forest fire: Trekking suspended in Kerala forests

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The death toll in the forest fire in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has risen to 10, with the police announcing Tuesday the recovery of one more body, Xinhua news agency reported. "The focus would now be on preventing the fire outbreak in to other areas and a circular was issued to foresters asking them to tighten the movement of public into reserve forests", forest department sources said.

According to the official, one person after getting admitted to the Government Hospital in Madurai got himself transferred to a private hospital and another person left for Chennai.

"We are still not sure if they had the permission or not". Twenty-six women, eight men and three children travelled to the region for a trek, she said.

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".

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, officials said the forest department had suspended Jaisingh, the officer on duty when the incident occurred. On Sunday, Baldev had said that 24 trekkers from the Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone up the Kurangani Hills.

It may be recalled the state government had said the trekkers had not obtained required permission for the expedition.

Rescue Operation is On 9 People trekkers and 27 Rescued: - As per the reports, 36 trekkers who got trapped in Sunday evening's forest fire in Tamil Nadu are being rescued by the local authorities.

In Chennai, police said attempts at enquiries at the office of the "volunteer" organisation believed to have arranged the ill-fated expedition had drawn a blank. No person will be allowed to carry matchboxes, beedis, cigarettes, lighters or other devices that can light a fire into the forest.

Relatives of the hikers grieve outside the hospital in Theni. "Our team was already downhill of Kolukkumalai, trying to put out the fire", he said.