At least nine trekkers are reported to have died in a forest fire on the Kurangani Hills in Tamil Nadu, the Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev said this morning.
A rescue operation with the help of the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters has been underway since Sunday. A total of 27 trekkers were rescued from the fire so far.
Earlier, in a tweet, Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan expressed grief and shock at the loss of life of those who were caught up in the blaze.
The Minister said he was praying for the fast recovery of those who were injured. He also thanked Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for deploying the IAF team in the rescue effort.
A Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services official said the rescue operation was likely to be over by today afternoon.
Pallavi Baldev said the operations were continuing and the trekkers were being brought down by the rescue team members.