5 bodies recovered from Indian river

By Mubasshir Mushtaq, Monday, June 09, 2014

NEW DELHI – Rescue teams recovered five bodies a day after 24 college students were washed away in the Beas river in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh on Monday, government officials told Indian media.

Dozens of police personnel, rescue workers and divers scanned the river bank with no initial signs of life, raising fears that the rest of the 19 missing students may not survive.

A group of 46 students from VNR Vignan Jyothi Engineering College, Hyderabad were clicking pictures on the banks of the Beas river on Saturday evening on their way to the popular resort town of Manali when a sudden release of water from the Larji reservoir led to a surge in the river water level. The sudden unforeseen release of water from the reservoir swept away the sightseeing students.

The government has suspended the manager of the hydroelectric project at the Larji reservoir as angry protestors blocked the Manali-Kiratpur Highway demanding answers on the unexpected release of water from the reservoir.  

TV Suharsha, one of the surviving students, described the tragic incident in a blog post on Monday writing that the students were told by locals that the river was safe for excursions and they were not aware of the presence of a reservoir nearby.  

“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 a series of small rocks,” Suharsha wrote in a blog post carried by NDTV news channel.

“After about 10 minutes, the water lever started rising.  I was upstream and I noticed it first. I began screaming, trying to alert everyone as I rushed back,” he wrote.

 “About 10-15 students were washed away in front of us.  We saw a body in the water - I could just see the head - I didn’t know if the student was still alive. I threw a rope towards the student but the body soon just disappeared,” he wrote.

The incident arose on Sunday when Hyderabad city witnessed the oath-taking ceremony of the new state government.

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