At least 15 of the 36 trekkers got caught up in a forest fire at Kurangani Hills in Theni district were rescued even as a massive search and rescue operation was on to rescue the remaining ones.
Ten commandos have moved to Madurai by a helicopter from Sulur Air Force base and then trekked to the spot last night. They are carrying medicines and are to provide medical assistance to the injured, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted.
Speaking to the media, Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev said 15 persons have been rescued and search is on for others. The rescued trekkers have been admitted to nearby hospital.
Baldev said 24 trekkers from Chennai Trekking Club and 12 from Erode and Tiruppur had gone to the Kurangani Hills.
She said the trekking group consisted of eight men, 25 women and three children.
Baldev said the trekkers had camped at a place up in the hills on Saturday night and they decided to return on Sunday.
While the trekkers were coming down, they came across forest fire and the group got divided, she said.
Speaking to the media, a trekker said: Twenty-four people were from Chennai, of which 22 were girls and two boys. Going up was not possible. I jumped into a rocky pit and escaped. Those who jumped down escaped the fire.