Mandi, Himachal Pradesh: Twenty four students from an engineering college in Hyderabad are feared to have been washed away in the Beas river near Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. Six of them are girls.
The incident occurred at around 6 pm on Sunday when the students, who were on their way to the resort town of Manali for an excursion, were clicking pictures on the banks of the river. A sudden release from the reservoir of the Larji dam led to a surge in the water level in the river which is feared to have swept away the students.
The missing students were part of a 46-member sightseeing group from the VNR Vignan Jyothi Engineering College. The group's tour manager and faculty member Kiran is also missing.
Angry locals blocked the Manali-Kiratpur Highway, saying authorities had failed to issue a warning about the release of water from the dam.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu expressed shock and anguish over the incident. Mr Naidu has requested the Himachal Pradesh government to expedite relief and rescue operations, official sources said.
Meanwhile, two teams of the National Disaster Response Force, which include deep water divers, have been rushed to help with rescue operations. The NDRF teams, comprising 84 personnel, have been disptached following a directive from Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a Home Ministry official said.
However, darkness and strong river currents hampered search operations during night.
"Impossible to do search operations as water flow is massive at the moment... Investigations will be carried out," Ram Swaroop Sharma, the MP from Mandi, told NDTV.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao too expressed shock and deep anguish over the incident. He has rushed a team, headed by the Home Minister, to Himachal Pradesh to take stock of the situation.