At least 24 engineering college students from Hyderabad were feared washed away in river Beas in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh late on Sunday evening.
The students were reportedly washed away by the flash floods that occurred in the river after water was released from the upstream Larji Hydro electric project. The engineering students who had entered the river bank on the Mandi-Manali highway were apparently taking photographs at Thalot.
The sudden surge of water swept away at least 18 boys and 6 girls of VNR Institute of Engineering and Technology catching them completely unaware. The college is located in Bachupally on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
There were 61 tourists, including 48 students of the engineering college, who were travelling to the hill station of Manali. Out of 24 missing students, 6 were girls, police said.
The local administration said the gates at Pandoh dam in Mandi, about 15 kms downstream, have been shut to fish out the bodies. The vehicular traffic on the busy Mandi-Manali highway has also been closed to conduct the rescue operations.
The students were on an industrial tour and left Hyderabad on June 3. One of the students, Pratyusha who saved herself said that they were on their way to Kullu from Shimla and they were taking pictures on the river bed. Some students went a bit deep into the waters and they couldn’t rush back as the gushing waters swept them away.
“The project officials had sounded an alert but we did not hear it,” she said sobbing uncontrollably seeking the help of the media to bring them back. “There has been no assistance so far from the HP authorities except for the police grilling us about the number of students,” she lamented.
Andhra Pradesh Resident Commissioner Shashank Goel said that information given by the Mandi Deputy Commissioner Dwesh Kumar said: “The Deputy Commissioner has not confirmed any casualties.”
Himachal Pradesh officials said that the students who were feared washed away could surface in Pandoh dam, which is 15 kms downstream of the site of the tragedy. “Himachal Pradesh officials have requisitioned the services of divers and rafts to take up relief and rescue operations,” Mr. Goel said adding that a two-member team of AP Bhavan – P.Ravin Shankar (Assistant Commissioner) and M. V. S. Rama Rao (Protocol Officer) are leaving by the first flight to Kullu, which has an airport.
(with additional reporting by R. Ravikanth Reddy and Ravi Reddy in Hyderabad)
The engineering students who had entered the river bank were apparently taking photographs at Thalot