Mumbai/Mandi: A video showing 24 Hyderabad students being washed away in Beas river in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district went viral on the internet.
An exclusive video uploaded by Amarujala.com shows a group of students standing in the middle of a calm river on a rock and then being washed away within seconds by sudden surge in water level of the river. Students can be seen screaming and howling, unaware of the sudden gush of water.
Bodies of five of the 24 students, swept away in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, were flown back to their hometown Hyderabad. A plane carrying 22 survivors of the group also returned to the city.
Despite massive search operations by the Centre and Himachal Pradesh governments, with assistance from the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments, the chances of finding any survivors from Sunday’s tragedy at Beas river look bleak.
The survivors of the Beas mishap saw horror unfolding in front of their eyes when swirling water came rushing towards them and washed away their friends who were clicking pictures on the rocks in the riverbed.
The students said that the water level rose to several feet suddenly, making it difficult for them to stand. “We were all sitting on the rocks, taking photos. There was a big rock in the middle of the river and everyone wanted to reach the top of that rock. Some made their way to it by stepping on some smaller rocks. After about 10 minutes, the water level started rising. I was upstream and I noticed it first. I began screaming, trying to alert everyone as I rushed back,” a shocked T.V. Suharsa said.
Few students made futile attempts to rescue their friends. “Few were trying to hold others’ hands and trying to pull them back, but it was in vain as the water level rose in a few seconds,” said another student.
Another survivor, Ravi Kumar, said, “I tried to alert my friends but by then the water level had shot up.”
Though official help came much later, villagers came to help the victims. “The locals were also helping us. About 15 to 20 students were washed away in front of us. I could just see the head of one student but I didn’t know if he was still alive. I threw a rope towards him but he just disappeared,” one of the students said.
Andhra Pradesh government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of all 24 students who were washed away.
Rescue teams fished out the body of a student from the Beas River and intensified the hunt for 18 others missing even as a case of negligence has been registered against authorities of the Larji Hydropower project in connection with the incident.
The body was recovered from Beas River near Hanogi, raising the total number of bodies recovered so far to six, Indo-Tibetan Border Police Commandant Lakshman said.
The victim has been identified as MD Shabir Hussain Shaik and identification of the body was done by his mother Ayisha Begum, who was camping at Kullu.
Swinging into action, police has registered a case against authorities of the power project.
SP Mandi RS Negi said that a case under sections 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC has been registered against the authorities of Larji project.
The FIR against the project authorities was registered by A Aditya, a teacher accompanying the students.
Rescuers, meanwhile, continued to search for the 18 missing persons including 18 students of a Hyderabad-based institute who were washed away by the waters of the Beas on Sunday.
"Intensive search operation are on along 20 km stretch of river Beas from Thalot (the accident spot) to Pandoh Dam but the river is full of boulders and silt level is high.The bodies are either trapped under boulders or sunk in the silt and we are searching every boulder," Jaideep Singh, commanding officer NDRF, said.
A team of 84 people, comprising 20 NDRF divers, assisted by 18 divers of the army are searching the bodies and chances of the bodies flowing downstream Pandoh Dam are very dim.
The search teams are expecting the swollen bodies to surface by tomorrow but chances of survival of the missing persons are nil.
Four bodies recovered on Monday were flown to Hyderabad and cremated yesterday while the fifth body of Devashish Bose was flown to Hyderabad yesterday evening.
Officials said that Beas being a snowfed river, the water level increases as the day advances and reaches its peak at night.
However, the discharge of water is minimum during the morning hours and search operations are comparatively easy.
Watch: 24 students being swept away in Himachal Pradesh tragedy
Disclaimer: The video has been published by Amarujala.com.