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Five dead in forest fire in India’s Tamil Nadu

Gorkha Post

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TAMIL NADU — At least five of the 40 college students who were trapped in a massive forest fire that broke out in southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Sunday have died.

The students were trapped in a forest fire in the hills above Kurangani, a tourist spot in the Western Ghats of Theni district on Sunday evening, local media reported. The five trekkers died of burn injuries, officials said.

Thirty of them have been rescued and taken to hospital. Search and rescue operations for the other missing trekkers continued overnight. The Indian Air Force, which has been pressed into service for rescue operations, is sending a helicopter to the affected area.

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A fire broke broke out in Kurangini hills in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district when a group, which had 25 women and 3 children, went on a trek organised by the Chennai Trekking Club.

According to preliminary reports, the students were climbing down the hills from Munnar in Kerala to Theni on their own.

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Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

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CALIFORNIA — Koko, the beloved gorilla who was able to communicate in more than 1,000 signs, has died at 46 in California’s Santa Cruz mountains on Tuesday.

The Gorilla Foundation said the 46-year-old western lowland gorilla died in her sleep at the foundation’s preserve.

Koko was born at the San Francisco Zoo, and Dr Francine Patterson began teaching the gorilla sign language that became part of a Stanford University project in 1974.

Koko was taught sign language from an early age as a scientific test subject and eventually learned more than 1,000 words, a vocabulary similar to that of a human toddler.

She became a celebrity who played with the likes of William Shatner, Sting, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robin Williams and Mr Rogers.

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At her home preserve, where she was treated like a queen, she ran around with Williams’ eyeglasses and unzipped Roger’s famous cardigan sweater.

The foundation said Koko’s capacity for language and empathy opened the minds and hearts of millions.

“Koko touched the lives of millions as an ambassador for all gorillas and an icon for interspecies communication,” the Gorilla Foundation said in a statement.

“She was beloved and will be deeply missed.”

Koko appeared in many documentaries and twice in National Geographic.

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