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 a tour of Himachal Pradesh and were taking pictures on the banks of the river when this tragedy occurred. A faculty member and a tour manager were also missing along with students. Larji Dam is located on the Beas river near Mandi, which is on highway leading towards Manali. Due to the hot weather, the water from the dam was released without warning.
A massive rescue mission was launched with professional rafters and divers called in to look for survivors. Police and people from nearby villages too joined in the search for students, but it became impossible to locate them in the dark yesterday. Sources said the massive current must have carried them to another reservoir 20 km downstream at Pandoh. More rescue teams have been sent from Mandi.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on receipt of information, spoke to his Himachal Pradesh Counterpat Virabhdra Singh and requested him to take immediate rescue measures to trace the missing students.