CTC members claimed that he was running a Chennai – Puducherry marathon from Saturday morning and was supposed to be back to Chennai on Monday morning. “He is not staying in Palavakkakm house anymore and was trying to rent out the house through OLX for the last few weeks,” said Sankaranarayan, a member of CTC.
A police team and Sholinganallur tahsildar Ezhumalai visited Palavakkam house, which had been functioning as CTC’s base on Monday. Revenue officials claimed that they were trying find out if the club was properly registered.
“Peter is not reachable. We don’t have any communication from him. It is possible that he is travelling to Madurai,” the CTC member added.
A native of Belgium, Peter Van Geit, had been living in Chennai for last 17 years. His club was involved in the rescue, relief and rehab operations during flood in the year 2015 and cyclone Vardah.
Meanwhile, representative of Chennai Trekking Club on Monday noted that all the participants who went for trekking in Kurangani hills in Theni were aware of dangers associated with such outdoor activities.
According to Sankaranarayan, a BPO employee and a CTC member, who had gone for several treks, all the participants are told about the dangers, including death, associated with such forest trips.The online application form, which invited the participants for the women’s day special trekking stated in the mandatory disclaimer: “Trekking or biking or cycling or any outdoor events organized by Chennai Trekking Club may involves inherent risks. These risks may include but not limited to, loss of or damage to personal property, physical injury, mental injury, death, road accidents, accident or illness without access to means of rapid evacuation or availability of medical supplies or services, dangers associated with wild or other animals.” The participants are supposed to agree to take full responsibility.
According to Sankaranarayan, the two organisers Arun, a marine engineer from Chennai and Vipin from Coimbatore, who were killed in the forest fire, were doing it purely because of their love for trekking.
- Permission should be obtained from forest officials concerned.
- Number of persons: Minimum – 10, Maximum – 15
- Trekkers should be accompanied by local guides or forest staff (like watchers), who have knowledge of the terrain.
- Trekkers should have communication equipment like cellphones and walkie-talkie.
- Forest staff should provide instructions on dos and don’ts to the trekkers.
VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS
Friends remember Nisha with shock, sorrow
Quiet but outgoing, fun-loving who also enjoyed her time alone, 28-year-old Nisha Tamiloli had made an impression on those who knew her. One of the well-known volunteers of the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), Nisha was among those who died in the disastrous forest fire that claimed 10 lives so far. “She loved nature, treks and everything outdoors. She was the most hassle-free person I met, who had no qualms of any kind,” recalled Esha Srivastava, who met her at Warwick Business School - University of Warwick, United Kingdom, where Nisha studied around five years ago. Esha had met her through mutual friends some years ago, a relationship that grew over the years. “I grew to become very fond of her. My fondest memories from my University days are with Nisha,” she said. “I remember hosting a dinner for Nisha once there. She was a perfect guest,” said Esha, clearly distressed at the shocking loss. Ever since the news came, Nisha’s Facebook wall was filled with sorrowful messages from friends, who are yet to come out of the shock.
Newly-wed woman techie from city killed
A 26-year-old woman software professional working in an IT firm in Sholinganallur died in the forest fire at Kurnagani hills in Theni on Sunday evening. The victim, Punitha Balaji had gone for trekking with her office friends. She hailed from Chengalpattu and married Balaji, another techie of Sriperumbadur on January 28, this year. The untimely demise of Punitha, within 44 days of her marriage has saddened both the families. Members of both the families have left for Theni to bring the body of Punitha, police said on Monday.
Trekker was saved because of foot injury
Shraddha Sriraman, who was part of the group from Chennai that had undertaken the ill-fated trekking expedition last week, had a miraculous escape, from the raging fires. Last week she went on her first trek to Nagalapuram, Chittoor with her running team. The one to Theni was with the CTC.She tells us, “Having covered close to a fourth of the uphill trek, I tripped and twisted my right ankle, which caused a swelling in my foot. The organisers from Chennai Trekking Club offered me first aid and I resumed my climb and reached the peak. However, by some providence, I took the call of not descending as I realised it could further aggravate my injury. I thought it was important for me to know when I should stop.” Choosing to stay back at the peak with a female support staff turned out to be a life-saving decision.