A sightseeing trip in a mountainous resort town in northern India turned tragic on Sunday after dozens of students were swept away by surging waters from a dam release while snapping pictures on a riverbank. Four bodies were recovered Monday morning, but 21 others are still missing with police calling the chances for survival "slim."
A group of 48 engineering students from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad were visiting the resort town of Manali, about 330 miles north of New Delhi. The engineering students were taking photos along the bank of the Beas River when a sudden discharge of water from a dam upstream caught them by surprise, according to the Associated Press. At least 24 students were washed away from the surge of water.
Bonath Shekar Naik shows a portrait of his son Rambabu, one of the students feared dead during a field trip near the mountain resort town of Manali. (AP Photo/ Mahesh Kumar A.)
Kiran Kumar, a professor accompanying the students, said he saw the water level rising and tried to tell the students to step back from the bank, but "within one or two seconds, the water level increased all of a sudden. Some of the students were washed away right in front of me," he told the Associated Press.
One student said that he saw a "wall of water" swallow the students alongside the river and that they "disappeared under the waves."
The Indian Express reports that authorities released water from an upstream reservoir without any warning. The incident prompted fury from locals, who blocked the national highway in protest. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh demanded the dam's engineer be suspended while the incident is investigated.
Search efforts were ongoing Monday, but a shortage of boats and divers was hampering those operations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Polluted waste water flows into the Ganges river in Kanpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. (DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)