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Indian river surge kills at least 25 students

Dam gates opened without warning

Indian river surge kills at least 25 students

A parent holds up a list of names of students who are feared to have drowned in the incident. Picture: AFP Photo/Noah Seelam

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi

June 9, 2014

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At least 25 students were feared drowned on Monday in Himachal Pradesh state, after the gates of an upstream dam were opened without warning, quickly raising the water level in the Beas river.

“Only four bodies have been recovered so far. The chances of survival of the students are very bleak,” Anil Thakur, station house officer of the Auot police in Mandi district, who was present at the site of the incident, told

Some 48 students and three faculty members of the Vignan Jyothi Engineering College in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh state were on a tour when they stopped near the river in Mandi district on Sunday evening.

After the students waded into the river to take pictures the water level suddenly rose, sweeping 25 of them away. The surge occurred after water was released from the Larji power project dam a few kilometers upstream.

“The water was released suddenly without any warning. The project authorities did not press the siren to warn the people before opening the gates of the dam,” Thakur said.

He added that a case has been registered against the project authorities and the state government has suspended the project engineer.

He said over 200 personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal, home guards and rafting professionals were searching for the remaining students.

An eyewitness account from one of the students in the group and carried in a media report said that they had enquired from the locals if it was safe to enter the water.

“We all were screaming, trying to help. The locals were also helping us. About 10 to 15 students were washed away in front of us.

“We saw a body in the water. I could just see the head. I didn’t know if the student was still alive. I threw a rope toward the student but the body soon just disappeared,” he wrote in his account.

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