With trekkers from different parts of the State assembling in Theni on Friday and Saturday, there is still confusion on the exact number of people trapped in the massive forest fire in Kurangani. Many trekkers were meeting each other for the first time and belonged to different age groups. It was unclear if they were taken by any trekking club or had gone on their own.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Revenue Administration K. Satyagopal told The Hindu that the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) had its personnel on the ground and more personnel are to be airlifted to the spot early on Monday.
K. Krishnamoorthy, father of K. Sai Vasumathi from Chennai, who had gone trekking, was anxious on Sunday night as there was no information about her whereabouts. “I have been trying to reach her since evening. I spoke to her in the forenoon and she said they were coming down the hills,” he said. His daughter was among the three from her company, who went on the trek from Chennai.
According to him, the trekkers met in Theni on Saturday morning and started their journey from there.
“My daughter told me that they stayed there last night and they started coming down on Sunday morning,” he said from Thanjavur over phone.
A woman, who was rescued from the spot and presently in Bodinayakkanur, said, “We were a group of 25 plus two guides from Chennai; three from the team left for Munnar. We also saw one family trekking and then another team of about 12 came along. We don’t know as to how many were actually in the place where the fire spread.”
One of the rescued women said she was part of the team of 24 trekkers from Chennai. “When the fire spread to our side, we took shelter behind a rock. Those who did that were safe,” Vijayalakshmi told a TV channel from the hospital at Bodinayakkanur.
One trekking expedition was organised by the Chennai Trekkers Club. It was an all-women’s trek that left Chennai on Monday evening to Bodi and was scheduled to return on Monday.
The club had said that 20 members would be taken for the expedition.