One more body recovered; Army, NDRF teams continue search operations

As anxious parents stood at the accident site to identify the body recovered from the Beas river, Robin Bose, father of 20-year-old Debashish Bose, reluctantly followed them.

Mr. Bose probably had an intuition as he was the last parent to join the identification exercise. He recognised his son immediately. .

Debashish’s body was retrieved about one-km downstream from the accident site at Thalot on Tuesday. Mr. Bose tried hard to hold back his tears in front of the media but could not control his emotions once he moved into the ambulance as the body was taken for a post-mortem.

The other parents headed back to the base camp at Pandoh in Mandi. Some parents went upstream to the accident site to monitor the search operations. Some of them surrounded Home and Labour Minister of Telangana N. Narshima Reddy and the freshly inducted Minister in Andhra Pradesh government P. Narayan Rao, hoping that they would provide some solace.

Mr. Rao told The Hindu that his government was yet to announce ex-gratia relief to the victims’ families. But he said he was satisfied with the search operations being conducted by the joint forces and the local administration.

Andhra Pradesh Principal Secretary, Revenue, J.C. Sharma, said enough personnel had been deployed for the search operation and the Himachal government had refused any further help from the central or armed forces.

Mandi District Magistrate Devesh Sharma, who is the overall in-charge of the rescue operation, said at least 20 teams from the Army, 22 teams from National Disaster Response Force, nine specialised boats with 62 persons, including divers, hundreds of local rafters, police personnel, Home Guards and officials of the Parvati, Larji and Pandoh hydel projects were involved in the emergency operation.

Himachal Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Anil Sharma told The Hindu that the State Government has announced an ex gratia of Rs. 1.5 lakh to the victims’ families. He said all parents whose children were missing have been given accommodation in different hotels and were being taken to the accident site for their assistance.

But the exhausted parents complained of slow search operations. “The bodies are coming up on their own and the rescuers are not going deep into the river,” said B.V. Subarao, who lost his son Sairaj in the tragedy.

“Why can’t they press coast guards and navy divers with in-depth diving expertise,” asked Asia Husain, mother of Sabir Husain, as she and other parents walked back to the camp from the accident site.

Keywords: Kullu tragedy