Smoke and flame are found emanating from a 40-feet long and two feet wide crater, caused by lightning which struck last afternoon at Talaikuda village on the outskirts of Udhagamandalam.

According to official sources, nearly 300 eucalyptus trees were burnt, following the lightning, which hit the area, and big crater was formed.

The smoke, which was found last evening, continued emanating heavily today and a flame was visible deep below eight feet, the sources said.

People, who went near it, felt burning sensation in eyes, headache and nausea.

Experts from Geological Survey of India, who visited the area, have informed their higherups in Chennai, about the development.

Some of them opined that the gas could be methane. However, they ruled out the possibility of earthquake or eruption of volcano from inside the crater.

But people in the area, majority of them tribals, were living in fear, the sources said.