Around 24 engineering students from Hyderabad are feared to have been washed away this evening in River Beas near Thalot on Manali-Kiratpur Highway, 40 Km from Mandi.

The sightseeing trip to Himachal Pradesh turned tragic for the tourists when the students, including some girls who were taking photographs at the bank of the river, were swept away by gushing waters of Beas as discharge of water suddenly increased following its release from the reservoir of 126 MW Larji hydropower project.

According to information available with authorities in Shimla tonight, 18 boys and six girls are feared to have drowned.

The discharge of water increased suddenly and caught everyone unawares as the Project authorities released the water apparently without any warning.

Enraged people blocked the national highway after the incident.

Massive search operations have been launched to trace the missing students but there was no success due to darkness.