Kullu accident: Rescue operation on, 30 still missing

Kullu, July 25 (IANS) Rescue agencies continued their operation on Saturday to search for the missing 30 passengers from Punjab who got drowned in the swollen Parvati river in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district.

A tourist bus skidded off the road and fell into the river on Thursday. Nine bodies have been taken out and 23 people have been rescued.

The Punjab government has released a list of 30 missing passengers. A majority of them were from Barnala and Mansa towns who were travelling to a Sikh shrine in Manikaran.

Kullu Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar told IANS that search operation continued for the third day to locate the bodies.

He said one body was recovered from the river but it was not that of the missing passengers.

He said the bus was still untraceable, and the divers could not successfully carry out the operation as the river was in spate.

Rescuers said there were chances now that the remaining bodies, which were in the process of getting bloated, would automatically start surfacing in the water.

In the first two days, nine bodies were recovered.

Over 400 rescue workers, comprising divers of the National Disaster Response Force, the Bhakra Beas Management Board and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, are involved in the search operation, focusing on the 44 km downstream stretch of the river from the accident spot to Pandoh dam.

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

Meanwhile, parents and family members of many of the missing passengers have been camping here.

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

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