Hoping for good news: A parent pointing to a photograph of one of the missing students, published in a local newspaper in Hyderabad. - AFP
SHIMLA: Rescuers discovered five bodies in a river in northern India as they stepped up their search for 24 students washed away in a sudden surge of water released from a dam.
The students were standing on the edge of the Beas River in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday evening, taking photographs when they were hit by a wall of water.
“In the morning, five bodies were found in the Beas River as rescue teams continue to search downstream,” senior state government official Pankaj Rai told CNN-IBN news channel yesterday.
Soldiers, police and other rescue workers were seen combing the banks of the river, while others in kayaks were paddling slowly downstream, checking around boulders.
Television footage showed soldiers carrying a body bag from the river to a waiting jeep on the road above.
Some 50 engineering students were travelling in buses to the tourist hill station of Manali when they stopped in the Kullu Valley, some 200km from Shimla, officials have said.
Teachers and fellow students from an engineering college in Hyderabad recalled how they screamed at the group about the torrent of water, which appeared without warning.
“I did not walk down to the river but saw the sudden rise of the water and screamed to the students to run but the waters quickly engulfed and swept them away,” college staff member A. Aditya told CNN-IBN.
The surge of water occurred when a hydroelectric power project opened its floodgates, sending tonnes of water downstream, officials have said.
Anger is mounting over whether any warning was given before the water’s release, with local media reporting protests late Sunday by residents on the road above where the accident occurred. — AFP