Shimla: Ravi Kumar, who survived the flash floods in river Beas that drowned 24 students on an excursion to Manali, said on Monday: “The water level suddenly rose to five or six feet and the students who were close to the river were washed away.” He said no help came from the district administration for hours, an allegation repeated by other students.
On Monday, 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. However, only five bodies have been found while the fate of 19 others is still not known. They were washed away owing to flash floods triggered by the release of water from a hydropower project. One of the bodies was recovered from Pandoh dam, whose floodgates were closed after the accident. The dam is some 15 km downstream from the accident spot.
The students were getting themselves photographed on the banks of the river in Thalaut area near Hanogi Mata temple when they were washed away. Ravi Kumar, who had a providential escape, told NDTV, ”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.
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. About 10-15 students were washed away in front of us. The tragedy had taken place just 10 minutes after we got down from the bus.”