March 2018
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Forest Fire: Garud commandos, helicopters pressed into service
(New Delhi, Mar 12, 2018): Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said an advanced light helicopter (ALH) will be pressed into service for rescuing those trapped in the forest fire in Tamil Nadu, due to the hostile terrain.

Nine people, who were part of a trekking expedition, have been killed so far in the fire, that started yesterday in the state's Theni district and has engulfed long stretches of forest area. Several people are feared to be trapped inside the forest.

Citing the difficult terrain as a major hindrance in conducting operations seamlessly, Sitharaman said, "We are also bringing in an ALH, which is a light helicopter so that the manoeuvrability will be better because this cliff is almost a vertical hillock, which goes up very sharply and there is not much not of a level ground where they can land."

Therefore, the operation has to be done winching the survivor or the dead, she told reporters here.

The defence minister said 16 Garud commandos -- a special force of the Indian Air Force -- have rescued a few people in the night.

"At the moment, the report is that the garuds are trying to lift the bodies of the dead to a higher plain, from where you can have the helicopters go and carry them down. So there are two helicopters waiting to do this particular activity," Sitharaman said.

One helicopter has spent a lot of time from early dawn to contain the fire. It has also has doused the fire in that area, from where the garuds have moved the bodies, she added.(PTI)

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