x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Four die in India as sudden dam release sweeps students away

“We saw a wall of water hit those who were on the banks. They fell flat and disappeared under the waves,” said one student at the scene.

Indian rescuers gather on the banks of the Beas River during a search operation in Kullu on June 9, 2014. Rescuers discovered at least four bodies in the river after a sudden surge of water released from a dam swept students on a field trip away. AFP Photo
Indian rescuers gather on the banks of the Beas River during a search operation in Kullu on June 9, 2014. Rescuers discovered at least four bodies in the river after a sudden surge of water released from a dam swept students on a field trip away. AFP Photo

NEW DELHI // Rescuers in rafts and boats were searching a Himalayan river on Monday for dozens of Indian students swept away when a dam released a rush of water without warning.

Police said four bodies had been found.

The 25 students from the southern city of Hyderabad were taking photographs on Sunday evening on the banks of the Beas River when they were hit by the rush of water from the Larji hydropower station near the mountain resort town of Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

They had been part of a larger group of some 48 students on a field trip spending 10 days near Manali. Some students at the river managed to scramble to safety.

“We saw a wall of water hit those who were on the banks. They fell flat and disappeared under the waves,” a student identified only as Sumiran told The Indian Express newspaper.

Kiran Kumar, a professor who was accompanying the students, said he saw the water level rising and told the students to step back from the bank. But “within one or two seconds, the water level increased all of a sudden. Some of the students were washed away right in front of me,” he said.

Police in Manali said four bodies were recovered on Monday morning when the search resumed at dawn. They said a shortage of boats and divers was hampering the rescue operation.

“Officials there are fearing the chances of finding survivors were slim,” said Anurag Sharma, police director general in Telangana state, where Hyderabad is located.

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh demanded the dam’s engineer be suspended while the incident is investigated.

Telangana’s government on Monday sent police officials and parents of those missing to the search site, 530 kilometers north of New Delhi.

Anxious friends and relatives gathered at Hyderabad’s Vigyan Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology waiting for news of the missing.

*Associated Press