Theni forest fire: Toll rises to 11, injured shifted

By NT Bureau Published on Mar 13, 2018 03:31 PM IST

Chennai: One more person today succumbed to the injuries suffered during the forest fire at Kurangani hills in Theni, taking the toll to 11.

Divya of Erode died at a Madurai hospital, without responding to treatment. Her husband Vivek, who too climbed the mountain along with her, died on Monday. The couple were newly-married.

Four more are still to come out of the critical state and two patients who suffered more than 75 per cent burns were shifted to hospitals in Chennai and Coimbatore for further treatment.

Doctors at Madurai government hospital are constantly monitoring the condition of the victims. 'The patients are being watched for possible infections and also to prevent dehydration. "On the treatment front, antibiotics are being administered and dressing is done on a regular basis while collagen sheets are also being used when needed," a doctor said.

While every possible treatment is being provided at the Madurai hospital, victims who have got more than 75 per cent burns were transported to other hospitals. Jayashree from Salem town of Edappadi was airlifted to a hospital in Coimbatore, while Elakiya (27) was bought to Apollo Hospitals at Vanagaram in Chennai.

Rajasabapathy, a specialist in reconstructive surgery, who is to head the treatment for Jayashree, said, "Jayashree is being shifted to Coimbatore as she has suffered severe burns, up to 75 per cent."

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for those who suffered grievous injuries and Rs 50,000 for those with minor injuries, while Rs 4 lakh would be given to the kin of the dead. He also warned of strict action against those behind the incident. "Wrong-doers will be punished," he assured.

Helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF), along with 100 others from the local police and Forest Department, were pressed into rescue efforts.

Further, in the light of recent events, the Forest Department has banned trekking at Kollimalai hills, one of the famous spots for trekkers.

This morning, the hills at Kurangani received light showers, which controlled the on-going forest fire, reports said. The showers are said to have given the natives peace of mind after the disastrous series of event.

NEW RULES TO BE FOLLOWED

Trekking expedition to any forest area or wildlife sanctuary in Tamilnadu will, from now on, require prior approval from Forest and Wildlife authorities, an official has said.

"Those wanting to go on a trekking expedition to such hill ranges will have to apply to the conservator of forests or district forest officer in advance. They have to list out their contact address, blood group, and health issues, if any,' the official stated.

Speaking to reporters in Chennai today, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the government will tighten rules for trekking.

EARLY WARNINGS IGNORED?

A Facebook page titled 'Theni Pasanga Daa' has claimed that it had alerted about forest fire as early as 27 February itself, but the officials ignored it. Screenshots of its earlier posts have gone viral on social media.

GOVERNOR EXPRESSES GRIEF

Governor Banwarilal Purohit today said his heart is "filled with grief at the untimely end that has befallen 10 members of a trekking group in the Kurangani hills of Theni district".

"I offer my deep condolences to the families of those who are mourning the loss of their near and dear ones," he said.

The defence forces, the personnel of the fire services and police departments have been engaged in the rescue operations, with full vigour. I join the people of Tamilnadu in praying for the early and complete recovery of the trekkers admitted in hospital and all the others affected by the traumatic incident,' he said in a statement here.

DEAD & ALIVE

* Divya of Erode died today

* Her husband Vivek died on Monday

* Death toll touches 11

* 4 in critical state

* 2 shifted to Chennai, Kovai hospitals