Navy team scours Kullu’s river belt


Kullu, August 1

A six-member team of the Navy today conducted a survey from Sarsari on the Bhuntar-Manikaran road to the Larji dam. An overloaded 52-seater bus from Punjab plunged into the Parbati river near Sarsari in the district on July 23.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rakesh Kanwar said a 12-member Navy team headed by Commander Tilak Thakur would conduct a search operation with sonar imaging system and other equipment in the river from tomorrow.

The DC said six members of the team arrived on Friday. He said they conducted a survey from Sarsari to Larji dam today and identified some potential spots.

He said the other six members of the team would arrive with equipment on Saturday night and would start the search operation.

Nearly 600 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Home Guard and state police were pressed into service for the search operation.

Later, the strength was reduced to 160 personnel. They included 40 NDRF, 40 ITBP and 60 SSB personnel, the rest being from the Home Guard and the police.

The entire 18-km stretch from Sarsari to the Larji dam was divided into four segments to effectively conduct the search operation.

As efforts of the NDRF, SSB, ITBP and Home Guard failed to yield desired results, the district administration sought the assistance of the Navy in tracing the missing persons. The crew reached here from Visakhapatnam for the search operation.

Nearly 69 pilgrims were on board the ill-fated bus when it fell into the swollen river. Eight persons died on the spot and three bodies were later recovered from the river. At least 23 persons were injured and 35 went missing, who were feared to have been washed away in the river.

A large number of relatives and friends of the missing persons from Mansa, Barnala and Bathinda had been camping at a local gurdwara and visiting the accident spot everyday in the hope of finding their near and dear ones. However, there were very few chances of survival of the missing persons.