Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), June 19 :
Three more bodies of Hyderabad engineering college students were traced Thursday in the Beas river, taking the total bodies recovered to 12.
An equal number of students and a tour operator are still missing. The latest victims have been identified as M. Shiva Prakash Varma, Ashish Mantha and Machrala Akhil, the police said.
There swollen bodies surfaced from the river bed. While Varma’s body was traced in the middle of the night, the two others were recovered Thursday. Another student, P. Venkata Durga Tarun’s swollen body surfaced Wednesday.
Mandi Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar told IANS that search operation continued for the 11th day to locate bodies of the remaining 12 of the 24 students and a tour operator, swept away June 8 after water was released into the river without a warning from a nearby hydropower project.
The army and the navy withdrew their divers as their involvement in the search operation was no more required, Devesh Kumar said. The parents of the victims, who had gone back home, have been informed.
Rescuers said there were chances now the remaining bodies, which are in the process of getting bloated, would automatically start surfacing in the water.
The students were from the V.N.R. Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology in Hyderabad and they were on an excursion to Manali.
The tragedy occurred when a group of students reached the river bed for a picture-postcard shoot with the gurgling river in the background. A sudden wall of water released into the river without warning from a nearby 126 MW Larji hydropower project swept all of them away.
In the first four days of the operation, eight bodies were recovered.
Most of the bodies recovered at that time, officials said, were either trapped under the rocks or buried in the riverbed silt within a three-km radius of the accident spot at Thalaut on the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway No. 21.