Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek
New Delhi: At least 24 Engineering students from Hyderabad were feared washed away on Sunday evening by the Beas river near Thalot on Manali-Kiratpur Highway, 40 Km from Mandi.
The students, reportedly from Hyderabad`s VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology, were swept away after a flash flood occurred in the Beas river.
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force, which include deep water divers, were 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.
The sightseeing trip to Himachal Pradesh turned tragic when the students, including some girls who were taking photographs at the bank of the river, were swept away by gushing waters of Beas as discharge of water suddenly increased following its release from the reservoir of 126 MW Larji hydropower project.
According to information available with authorities in Shimla tonight, 18 boys and six girls are feared to have drowned.
The discharge of water increased suddenly and caught everyone unawares as the Project authorities released the water apparently without any warning.
Enraged people blocked the national highway after the incident.
Massive search operations have been launched to trace the missing students but there was no success due to darkness.
State officials said the chances of finding the missing
students alive are dim.
The services of divers have been requisitioned as part of rescue efforts.
About 20 students, who did not go to the river bank, are safe but were in a state of panic.
Efforts were underway to get the details of missing students from them, S R Mardi, ADGP(CID) said.
People living along the two sides of the river bank downstream of the dam have been alerted to inform the police about any person sighted by them.
The incident has sent shock waves and parents and friends of the missing students are making frantic calls to know about their whereabouts.
With PTI Inputs