Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), June 13 :
Water level in Beas river will be lowered Saturday morning to find the remaining 16 missing students and one tour operator who were washed away in strong current near here last week, officials said Friday.
Over 550 rescue operators will continue their massive search operation Saturday.
No bodies was recovered Friday, the fifth day of the search operation. So far, rescue workers have recovered eight bodies, most of them either trapped under the rocks or sunk in the silt inthe river bed.
“The water level in the three-km river stretch will be minimised for almost an hour by controlling inflow in it,” Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar told IANS.
He said the outflow from the Larji and Parvati hydropower projects, located in the vicinity of the river, will be drastically reduced for at least one hour from 7 a.m.
“During this period, our emphasis would be to scan the entire riverbed in three kilometres,” he added.
Jaideep Singh, commanding officer of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), said: “Maximum number of bodies have been recovered from this three-km stretch, near to the disaster spot. We are hopeful of locating more bodies in this stretch.”.
“An echo sounder, an instrument that sends out an acoustic pulse in water and measures distances in terms of the time for the echo of the pulse to return, would be deployed in a day or two to locate the missing students,” he added.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has also been deployed by the NDRF to locate the bodies.
A total of 20 divers of the NDRF and 18 of the army have been involved in the search operation. The Indian Navy and the ITBP are also part of the search operation.
The tragedy occurred when a group of students from an engineering college in Hyderabad, on a trip to Manali, was swept 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 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.