Fifteen of the 36 trekkers caught up in a forest fire at Kurangani Hills in Theni district were rescued on Sunday even as a massive search and rescue operation was on to rescue the remaining ones, an official said.
"Ten commandos will move to Madurai by a helicopter from Sulur Air Force base and trek to the spot in the night. They will carry medicines and provide medical assistance to the injured," Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted.
The commandos, having access to advanced communication facilities, will also check about the landing facility for the helicopter on Monday morning or decide on other ways of evacuating those stuck on the spot, including the injured, Sitharaman added.
Earlier, on her orders, an Indian Air Force helicopter surveyed the fire-ravaged hills.
She said during the aerial survey, the trekkers had signalled their location to the chopper crew with torchlights.
She said some of those located to Kurangani Hills had suffered burn injuries.
Baldev said there is no motorable road to the spot where the fire raged.
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."
Palaniswami, in a statement, said rescue operations are being carried out on a war footing.
The official said since the area does not have a good mobile network, full information on the efforts is not available. Senior fire service officials also have gone there.
Fire service personnel reached the forest armed with ropes, searchlights and other equipment to climb the hills. The official said the vehicles can ply only till Kurangani Hills.
Up on the hills, there is a tourist spot called 'Otha Maram' (single tree).
He said the trekking team could have climbed from the Kerala side also.
The official said it is not known how they reached the spot and if it was with or without the knowledge of the Forest Department.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)