In Pachaura village on Friday, villagers alleged that the Tenughat Dam authorities and the Bokaro district administration did not alert them before opening the gates.
The boys had entered the water after finishing a game of cricket around 1pm on Friday. The dam authorities opened the gates following heavy rain that continued through the night on Thursday. The students managed to secure a temporary relief from the rising water by positioning themselves on a concrete platform built by the Chandrapura Thermal Power Station.
Two boys, who were near the water when the gates were opened, raised an alarm following which Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh initiated rescue efforts in the evening.
The rescue operation was hindered by a strong current in the river water. Divers entered the water after a delay and rescued the trapped boys with the help of ropes around 11.30pm, the deputy commissioner said.
Four of them who knew how to swim spoke about their ordeal after being pulled out of the water: “We did not desert our colleagues as we thought they would lose hope and courage. Villagers who had gathered on either side of the river raised our spirits."
Singh, who oversaw the rescue efforts, said he would recommend the names of the divers to the Rashtrapati Bhawan for being honoured.