Mandi: The rescue agencies have decided to use site-scan radar for underwater search to trace the 17 missing engineering students from Hyderabad, who had drowned in the Beas river, after Saturday`s special search operation yielded no results.
"We have procured a site-scan radar for underwater search and divers will be provided with the equipment tomorrow to go deep into the water to locate the bodies, as special search operations conduced by reducing the river`s water level to minimum did not yield desired results," ADGP (Special Battalion) of Telangana Rajiv Trivedi, who led a group of trained policemen from Andhra Pradesh, said on Saturday.
The special search operation by lowering the Beas river`s water level to minimum on the three-km stretch from the accident site towards the Pandoh dam was undertaken after an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had yesterday failed to trace the missing students.
About 600 rescuers, including 450 workers and divers focussing on the three-km stretch of the river towards the Pandoh dam, commenced the search for the missing students at 6.00 AM today. Fifteen divers from Hyderabad also joined them.
"The water level in the three-km river stretch near the accident spot was minimised for almost an hour in the morning by controlling the inflow to enable the rescue teams to go deeper," Mandi Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar said.
The rescue agencies that have deployed over 600 personnel including 54 expert divers of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Navy, Army and Telangana Police, were disappointed as the massive search operation failed, and the parents of the missing students were also in despair and losing patience with the passage of time.
"Indeed we are disappointed but have not lost hopes, and will continue rescue operations with undiminished intensity," Trivedi added.
"The options are limited and we may have to open the gates of Pandoh Dam to retrieve the bodies or wait for another eight or ten days for the bodies to surface," he said.
Telangana Home Minister N Narsimha Reddy, who has been camping at Mandi, was equally disappointed and held a meeting with senior officials of the Himachal Pradesh government and rescue agencies to chalk out future strategy.
As many as 25 members -- 24 students and a tour leader -- of the group from VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology of Hyderabad, who were on an excursion to Manali, were swept away in the river after sudden release of water from the reservoir of the Larji hydro-power project near Thalot on June 8.
The bodies of eight persons were recovered during the first four days, while there has been no progress since yesterday.