Saturday, 25 July 2015

Two days after Kullu bus accident, body of woman pilgrim found in Larji dam

Two days after a private bus from Punjab fell into the Parbati river in Kullu, the body of a woman pilgrim travelling in it was recovered from Larji dam, 40 km downstream from here. Thirty-five pilgrims and the bus, PB-19 M-3085, are still missing.

A daylong frantic search on Friday yielded little as only one body was recovered and the bus wreckage couldn’t be found.

Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar told Hindustan Times on Saturday that rescue teams had been deployed at five locations to trace the missing victims, all of them pilgrims from Barnala, Bathinda, Anandpur Sahib and Mansa districts of Punjab.

Nine bodies were retrieved till Friday, while one was recovered on Saturday morning from Larji dam, where the Mandi district administration has set up a control room to fish out bodies of the victims washed away after the bus fell into the river.

“The National Disaster Response Force team has been deployed at the accident site near Sarsari village on the Bhunter-Manikaran road. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel are conducting a search at Jiya, where the Beas and its tributary Parbati meet 15 km downstream from the accident site. Seema Suraksha Bal personnel are deployed at Jhiri, Aut and Larji on the 40-km stretch,” Kanwar said.

Over 600 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sashastra Seema Bal, Bhakra Beas Management Board, police and the home guard have been engaged in the search operation from the accident spot to Bhuntar along the banks of the Beas up to Larji and Pandoh Dam.

The dam gates have been shut to prevent the bodies flowing downstream. A general alert has been sounded in the twin districts, asking people to keep immediately inform the administration in case any body is spotted on river banks.

At least 23 persons, including the driver and the conductor, were rescued and admitted to a hospital in Kullu on Thursday. Four seriously injured persons had been referred to PGI, Chandigarh, said Kullu Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar, adding the efforts were on to locate the bus wreckage as the possibility of the bodies trapped inside it were high. The 52-seater private bus was packed to capacity with 67 passengers.

“All 19 injured victims have been discharged from the regional hospital in Kullu. The bodies of nine victims have also been handed over to their families,” the deputy commissioner said.

The bus met with the accident in Sarsari village on the Bhuntar-Manikaran road, some eight km from Bhuntar.

Kullu’s Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar told IANS that a massive search operation was continuing for the remaining victims.

He said the focus of the search operation was to locate bodies trapped under boulders on the 10-15 km-long downstream stretch of the river from the accident spot.

Most of the bodies, officials said, were either trapped under rocks or buried in the riverbed silt.

A team of the National Disaster Response Force also reached the spot to locate the missing people.

“Our rescue workers are basically facing problem of poor visibility. The river bed is full of mud and silt. There are also big boulders and rocks,” an official said.

Meanwhile, family members of the missing people have reached the accident site.

Some of the relatives were apprehensive that the bodies might wash away 20-30 km further as the river stretch is narrow downwards and the current is strong.

This is the second major accident involving tourists in Himachal Pradesh in a little over a year.

Twenty four students of a Hyderabad-based institute and a tour operator were washed away in the Beas river in Mandi district on June 8 last year when water was released into the river without warning from a nearby hydropower project.

It took almost a month to retrieve all the bodies from the river.

Saturday 25 July 2015


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