Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), June 26 :
Two more bodies of students from an engineering college in Hyderabad have been recovered since Wednesday, taking the total number of retrieved bodies to 19, police said Thursday.
Five students and a tour operator still remain untraced and the search continued for them in the river for the 18th day.
The bodies found Thursday were identified as those of Nerudu Jagdish Mudiraj and P. Ridhima.
Both the bodies, in swollen conditions, were seen floating near the Pandoh dam, almost 15 km downstream from where the 24 students and a tour operators were washed away, the police said.
While Mudiraj’s body was recovered Thursday, Ridhima’s was found Wednesday.
Twenty-four students from the V.N.R. Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology were swept away June 8 after water was released into the river without warning from nearby 126 MW Larji hydropower project.
The focus of the search operation has been on the 15-km-long downstream stretch of the river from the Larji project dam to the Pandoh dam.
The Himachal Pradesh High Court in Shimla Wednesday ordered an interim compensation of Rs.5 lakh each to the families of the drowned students.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, which treated a media report as a public interest litigation, also made it clear that a criminal probe into the matter would continue and it would monitor its progress.
It said out of the total compensation amount, Rs.2.5 lakh will be paid by the state-run Larji hydropower project, responsible for the release of the water into the river, while the college will pay the balance. The amount should be deposited with the court by or before July 9, the next date of hearing.
A first information report has been registered under Sections 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 304-A (causing death by negligence).