File photo: Tamil Nadu chief minister. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
The trekkers who were caught in a forest fire in the Western Ghat's Kurangani Hill ranges did not have permission for an expedition, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said on Monday.
Nine people, who were part of a 36-member trekking team, were killed in the incident on Saturday.
Three men and six women were among the deceased, a senior official said.
"Without permission, they embarked on a trekking expedition. Trekkers should climb hills only after taking the government's nod," the chief minister said in Salem, Tamil Nadu.
Stern action would be taken in the future against trekkers who undertake such expeditions without the state's permission, he said.
During the summer months of March, April and May permission to trek is not given as the high forest ranges are dry with the possibility of forest fires spreading fast, he said.
The chief minister told reporters that a probe had been ordered to ascertain the cause of the fire and how it spread along the Kurangani hill ranges in Theni district.
Out of the 17 people getting treatment in hospitals, five are in Theni and the rest in Madurai, he said, adding he will visit the injured at Madurai this evening.
The team comprised 24 people from Chennai and 12 from Tiruppur and Erode districts.