The rescuers deployed a side-scan sonar in Mandi on Sunday but they failed to recover bodies of the 16 engineering students and one tour operator, who were drowned by the gushing waters of the Beas in Himachal Pradesh.
The side-scan sonar can scan the riverbed and take pictures, also failed to trace bodies even after the authorities brought down the flow of water in the Beas river on Sunday.
After the high-tech operation which turned to be vain, the rescue teams plan to drain a section of the course between the Larji and the Pandoh dams as part of their operation to retrieve the bodies.
But at the same time, there was also another plan of discharging water from the Pandoh dam so that the bodies, if stuck in between the rocks, come up to the surface once the water comes down with force. There was also fear in mind of rescuers that water from the dam may wash away the bodies downstream, which can minimize the chances of retrieving the bodies.
Mandi deputy commissioner Devesh Kumar said, “We have asked relatives of the missing students to give their consent for opening the flood gates of the dam.”
The tragedy occurred when 25 students of a group from Hyderabad’s VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology were drowned in the Beas river after water from the reservoir of the Larji hydro-power project near Thalot was suddenly released on June 7.
Eight bodies were recovered till June 11. However, divers have failed to recover any more since then. The search operation, focused on the three-kilometer stretch downstream the Larji dam as the eight bodies were recovered from this area. Now, the search will move closer to the Pandoh dam.
Parents are also losing patience now. Some of them have even beat up the head of the tour operator Krishna, who is in Mandi to receive the body of his nephew Prahlad. Narsimaha Rao, who is searching for his nephew Kiran Kumar said “Our hopes are fading every day as all the methods to retrieve the bodies have failed. We have no option but to leave this place.”