He said rules were in place for entering the reserve forests for trekking expeditions, but the trekking team caught in the fire tragedy had undertaken the expedition without the mandatory permission from the forest officials. The pressnote said fire lines would be strengthened and forest officials and temporary watchers directed to be alert.
Of those rescued, 18 were injured, Kandasamy said. By doing so, the department hopes to regulate the crowd and make them more responsible towards conservation, he said.
Six of the nine deceased trekkers were from Chennai while the rest were from Tiruppur. They will carry medicines and provide medical assistance. Meanwhile, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan conveyed his wishes to those recovering from the "heart-rending" forest fire.
Advanced light helicopters (ALH) and 10 commandos were pressed into service to rescue those who were trapped in the fire. The police confirmed that the children were treated for minor burn injuries in the Munnar taluk hospital, the report added.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam too made a similar charge and said probe will be conducted after rescue operations.
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Following the incident, the Kerala governnent today banned the temporarily banned trekking in state forest areas.
36 trekkers, an all-women team of IT professionals from Chennai, Coimbatore and Erode had gone on an expedition to Kolukkumalai on Saturday (10 March) to mark Women's Day.
Asked whether anyone had died, Theni district collector Mariam Pallavi Baldev told reporters: "I have received calls from people saying that some are unconscious because of the fire. This is a popular trekking spot", Theni district official S. Kandasamy told AFP.
A tragedy struck a group of trekkers in the southern hills of the Western Ghats on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border.
After conquering the peak, the trekkers started their downward journey to the plain and stopped for the lunch on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm when they were caught unaware by a raging fire from the downhill.