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Theni forest fire: Police nab 30-yr-old tourist guide, death toll rises to 11


A 30-year-old man, believed to be a tour guide who led the 36-member trekking group on an ill-fated expedition in the district of Theni, has been arrested, police said on Tuesday. The death toll has increased to 11.

Theni forest fire

Ranjith was arrested Monday night, they said, adding that he was being questioned to ascertain whether he had any links with a Chennai-based group which is believed to have arranged for the expedition.

Police are probing, among others, how the trekkers came into contact with Ranjith, a local.

Meanwhile, a 29-year-old woman succumbed to severe burn injuries on Tuesday, said an official.

While nine persons lost their lives on the spot, one person died at a Madurai hospital on Monday.

Trekking group organiser claims it followed procedures

The city-based group believed to have arranged the ill-fated trekking expedition to Kurangani Hills where 11 members were killed in a forest fire, today claimed the team had received an "entry pass" to proceed with their mission.

It also blamed local farmers for the fire that engulfed the area, killing some of the trekkers on a "women's trek to commemorate women's day."

It may be recalled the state government had said the trekkers had not obtained required permission for the expedition.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palanisamy had on Monday said: "without permission, they embarked on a trekking expedition.Trekkers should climb hills only after taking the government's nod".

A 36-member team -- 24 people from Chennai and 12 from Tirupur and Erode districts -- had embarked on the trekking expedition and reached Kurangani hills on March 10. The team included 25 women and three children.

Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purhohit on Tuesday visited the Madurai Government Hospital and consoled the family members of the injured.


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