Beas tragedy: NDRF deploys UAVs, echosounders to expedite search operation

Even as a massive search for the missing engineering students from Hyderabad continues, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has now deployed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Multi-beam echosounders to trace the dead bodies and expedite the ongoing rescue work in the Beas river.

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Jun 13, 2014, 15:52 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava

Mandi: Even as a massive search for the missing engineering students from Hyderabad continues, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has now deployed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Multi-beam echosounders to trace the dead bodies and expedite the ongoing rescue work in the Beas river.

It was reported on Friday that the NDRF is also planning to send more divers to speed up the search operation in Beas river.

So far only eight bodies have been recovered - two were recovered on Thursday. Three bodies were of girl students.

Twenty five people, including 24 engineering students and a tour operator, were washed away on Sunday evening in a flash flood caused by the sudden opening of the flood gates at the Larji hydel project dam in Mandi district.

Seven Navy divers were flown to Mandi yesterday from Goa, Kolkata and Patna to assist NDRF’s 39 divers.

M Shashidhar Reddy, vice-chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), who flew to Mandi on yesterday, said, “From Friday, the operation will go hi-tech as we propose to induct unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and deploy Multi-beam echosounders for over-water and underwater search. It will be for the first time that the NDRF will be carrying out such a operation.”
“The river is filled with silt, the flow is fast and there are big boulders,” Reddy further said.

Mandi Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar also informed that manpower has also been increased significantly on demand from the parents.

The search operation resumed today to find missing engineering students from Hyderabad and a tour operator who were washed away in a strong current of the Beas river near Himachal Pradesh`s Mandi town.

More than 550 rescue workers from various agencies continued with a massive search operation for the fifth day to locate the missing students in the river bed and along the water course.

The bodies of T. Upendra from Khammam district and G. Arvind Kumar from Hyderabad were recovered Thursday. With this, the rescue workers have recovered eight bodies so far.

The state government has given a toll free No. 1800-180-8024 for people to know about the status of the rescue operation.
The tragedy occurred when a group of students of an engineering college in Hyderabad, on a trip to Manali, was washed away Sunday evening when water was released into the river without a warning from a nearby hydropower project.

Police have registered a case against the 126 MW Larji hydropower project authorities for causing death by negligence and endangering life of people.

The case was registered on the basis of witnesses` accounts that the hooter was not sounded by the project officials before releasing water into the river.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has issued directions to all hydropower project authorities to follow necessary steps before releasing water which includes use of hooters and announcements on loudspeakers mounted on vehicles.