Silent river Beas turned into watery grave within seconds

Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), A survivor of the Beas river disaster in Himachal Pradesh Sunday, in which 26 students of a Hyderabad engineering college were washed away, Monday recalled how the river became a "watery grave" within seconds.

"The silent river literally turned into a watery grave within a fraction of seconds," Kiran, one of the survivors and a faculty member of the V.N.R. Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology in Hyderabad, told IANS.

At least 24 students, including six girls, of the institute were reported missing after strong currents in the mighty Beas river washed them away.

Officials said Monday that five bodies were found in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district while the fate of 19 others, who were washed away in the flash-flood after water was released from a hydropower project, is still not known.

On Monday, the survivors, most of whom are from the plains, said they were baffled after the disaster as nobody from the local administration was there to help them out.

Kiran said the students, who were on the way to picturesque tourist resort Manali, were clicking pictures on the banks of the Beas river when the disaster occurred.

Another survivor, Ravi Kumar said: "The water level suddenly rose to five or six feet and the students who were close to the river were washed away."

He said no help came from the district administration for hours.

"If the administration had reacted immediately, 10 to 15 lives could have been saved," an emotional Kumar said.

According to him, there were no hoardings to warn the tourists not to go near the flowing water.

"Before going into the water, we asked the locals and they said you could go. When the disaster occurred, rather than helping us, they started shouting at us," Kumar added.

Aditya, who saved himself, said darkness hampered search operations.

"There was no provision of searchlights. The search operation started almost 12 hours after the incident."

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