Beas survivors in deep shock

Beas survivors in deep shock

For the ill-fated group of students of a Hyderabad-based engineering college who were taking photos on the banks of the river Beas in Himachal Pradesh, tragedy struck in a matter of couple of minutes as they were washed away in the swirling waters whose level suddenly rose by several feet.

The gush of water turned out to be a killer tide, survivors recalled. Many of them, particularly women, were still in a state of panic.

Twenty-four students were washed away on Sunday evening by the Beas near Thalot on Manali-Kiratpur Highway, 40 km from Mandi. Five bodies were recovered on Monday.

The students were caught unawares by the sudden discharge of water from the 126 MW Larji reservoir project.

Even as rescue and relief operations were on, survivors had a harrowing tale to narrate. “It all happened in a matter of only 2-3 minutes,” said one of the students.

Ravi Kumar, a student who was part of the group from the Hyderabad college, said, “I tried to alert my friends. I ran towards my friends but by the water level had shot up.”

Nineteen-year-old Suharsha, said their group had 48 students, three faculty members and a child of one of the faculty members. “It was around 5:30-6 pm on the third day of our tour and we all wanted to stop for a break.

“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 to 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 level started rising. I was upstream and I noticed it first. I began screaming, trying to alert everyone as I rushed back,” Suharsha said.

“The locals were also helping us. About 15-20 students were washed away in front of us. I could just see the head of one student but I did not know whether he was still alive. I threw a rope towards him but he disappeared,” the student said.

The students alleged that neither was there any siren to alert the people about the release of water nor any danger mark signboards on the river bank. “Had there been any warning before release of water, precious lives would not have been lost,” they said.

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