Beas tragedy: Sixth body found, search on for 18 students

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Beas River
Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), June 11: One more body of a student of a Hyderabad engineering college was traced by rescue workers Wednesday scouring the Beas river in Mandi, taking the deaths in the tragedy to six.

A massive search operation continued for the third day to locate the remaining 18 of the 24 students and a tour operator who went missing in the flash-flood after water was released into the river without a warning from a nearby hydropower project, officials said.

They said chances of recovering any survivor of the tragedy that struck Sunday evening were bleak.

The latest body was recovered near Hanogi Mata temple, located near the accident, an official said.

The victim has been identified as Shabir Hussain and his mother Aisa Hussain, who was camping here, identified the body.

"I want my child back. No stone should be left unturned to find him," Aisa told IANS Tuesday.

"He should be traced at all cost. If he's not alive, I want the body of my son back," she said.

Aisa is among the 55 parents and family members of the missing students of the V.N.R. Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology in Hyderabad who have been desperately waiting here to hear about their missing sons and daughters.

Jaideep Singh, commanding officer of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), told IANS: "A massive search operation is on the river stretch from the accident spot to the Pandoh Dam."

"A team of 84 people, comprising 20 divers of NDRF, is on the job," he said.

The army has also deployed a team of 18 divers.

Singh said: "It seems most of the bodies are either trapped under the boulders or sank in the silt."

"There are few chances of bodies flowing beyond the Pandoh dam. We are regulating the outflow from the dam and expect that the swollen bodies may start surfacing tomorrow (Thursday) or day after (Friday)," he added.

Telangana Home Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy, who is camping here, said: "Our leader Jitendra Reddy met Home Minister Rajnath Singh today (Wednesday) and urged him that at least 500 army men be put on the job to speed up the search operation."

He said though the state government and the NDRF were doing their best, the army assistance would speed up the operation.

More than 60 students and faculty members of the college were on an excursion to Manali.

Some of them were getting themselves photographed on the bank of the river Sunday evening when a wall of water washed them away.

"The river level suddenly increased due to release of water from the Larji hydropower project dam, located near the accident spot, without warning," a witness said.

Police have registered a case against the hydropower project authorities for causing death by negligence and endangering life of others.

The case has been registered on the basis of eyewitnesses' accounts that the hooter was not sounded by the project officials before releasing the water into the river.

IANS

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