The final-semester students often organised one-day excursions in small and big groups

The district police were trying to reconstruct how the ill-fated trip of final-year Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering students of the Sarabhai Institute of Science and Technology, Vellanadu, was organised.

Eight persons, including seven students of the college, one of them a woman, had died when the driver of the tourist bus in which they were travelling lost control of the vehicle while it was negotiating a hairpin turn and fell into a deep crevice near Rajakkad in Idukki district on Monday morning.

At least 13 of the 39 students were seriously injured. A police official said that they had identified at least three students who had arranged the four-day tour, purportedly without the knowledge of their college management and teachers.

The tour group leaders had collected money in advance for the trip from their classmates and contracted a private tourist bus based at Venjarammoodu. Their seniors had often hired the same bus for their trips. An official said it seemed common for final-year students of the college to organise such trips prior or after their final-year day celebrations.

The police said the tour had commenced from a yet-to-be identified location near the college at Vellanadu at 11.30 p.m. on March 23. They were verifying whether it was from the college premises itself or the house of some student or a nearby private hostel.

The tour group were bound for Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu. The accident occurred when they were on their way to Munnar from the tourist destination. The eighth-semester class of Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering was closely bonded. The students had organised the trip after their classes concluded and college gave them a period of study leave prior to their final examinations.

Police investigators who spoke to local sources and relatives and families of some of the students in the tour group said the class often organised one-day trips in big and small groups.