Authorities in Kerala on Sunday rushed a police team to help in rescue operations of over a dozen students caught up in a fire in Theni forest area in Tamil Nadu bordering Idukki district, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra said.
Behra said instructions have been issued to Idukki district police chief to give all assistance in the rescue operation.
"Medicines and food also have been sent to the spot. Behra spoke to his Tamil Nadu counterpart and assured of all help. He also asked Kerala State Fire and Rescue chief for all possible assistance," a media statement from Behra's office late Sunday night said.
Theni borders the famed Thekkady tourist destination in Kerala.
Authorities in Tamil Nadu were engaged in the operation to rescue students caught in the forest fire, with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying the Indian Air Force has been pressed into service.
The students, who are from Erode and Coimbatore, were trekking in the Kurangani Hills when they got caught in the fire.
At least 4 young trekkers were reported to have been charred to death in the forest fire as of Monday morning, and the number of casualties is likely to rise.
Speaking to the media on Sunday night, Theni District Collector Pallavi Baldev said that rescued trekkers had been admitted to nearby hospitals. 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 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.