UK & World News

  • 9 June 2014, 16:02

Search For Indian Students Feared Drowned

The bodies of four Indian students have been recovered by rescuers searching for dozens who were swept away while bathing in a river in northern India.

A group of 65 engineering students on a college trip were standing on the edge of the Beas River when they were suddenly struck by a surge of water released by a dam near the mountain resort town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

They were travelling by bus when they stopped in the Kullu Valley, some 130 miles from the state capital Shimla, on Sunday evening to take photographs and bathe.

Rescue teams assisted by the police and soldiers searched through the night for missing students and were still combing the river and its banks on Monday when the bodies were discovered.

A further 20 students and a member of staff from VNR Engineering and Technology College in the southern city of Hyderabad are feared drowned.

Police official Rajesh Kumar, said the chances of finding them alive were "minimal", adding: "But we're trying."   

Staff and fellow students told of how they desperately screamed and shouted to alert the group about the rush of water and looked on helplessly as they "disappeared under the waves".

"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," staff member A Aditya told the CNN-IBN news channel.

"We saw a wall of water hit those who were on the banks. They fell flat and disappeared under the waves," one of the students told the Indian Express newspaper.

The torrent of water occurred after the Larji hydropower station opened its floodgates, sending tonnes of water downstream.

There is a dispute over whether warning signals were sounded before the dam release.

According to the college's principal, there was no warning.

However, an engineer from the dam told CNN-IBN warnings were sounded and local residents "definitely warned the students to come out of the river" several times.

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has demanded the dam's engineer is suspended while the sequence of events is investigated.

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