It was supposed to be a party by the river and a majestic waterfall. But at least one teenager drowned and five others were missing - feared to have been swept away to death - as the Ghaggar's fast current rose suddenly near a Pinjore village on Wednesday morning.
Two of the eight Panchkula residents -- birthday boy Akshay (19) and Deepansh (17) -- were rescued, while Shubham Bhalla's (18) body was fished out by villagers. Those still missing are 16-uyear-old Arjun Bisht and 18-year-olds Ravinder, Samwit Raina, Hitesh and Pradeep Chaudhary.
The incident took place around 10am, but divers from the fire brigade reached only around 2pm. Ambulances reached around 2.40pm, and about 30 army troops reached five minutes after that for rescue. Deceased Shubham's address could only be determined in the evening, and similar was the case for missing boys Ravinder and Hitesh. Kalka SDM Manita Malik remained at the spot, while DC SS Phulia and DCP Ashwin Shenvi visited the spot in the afternoon.
How it happened
Akshay, a resident of Sector 20 in Panchkula, had turned 19 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the teenagers, who are from different schools and colleges, decided to bunk classes and reached Diwanwala village on three motorcycles where there is a waterfall.
They had just sat by the river when the water level rose in a flash flood. Within minutes, all eight were washed away. About 1.5 km downstream, between Burjkotia and Ambwala villages, Akshay and Deepansh were rescued by residents. Around 1pm, the body of Shubham was fished out.
Though the depth of the water was about 5 feet, the current gained tremendous speed, leading to the mishap. At the place where the rescue operations were on, the river had a humongous width.
The bodies could be stuck in the vegetation, but weren't found till around 8pm, when the rescue was suspended due to the dark.
FATE OF THE EIGHT
Shubham Bhalla was a resident of Sector 25 in Panchkula. He had recently passed Class 12. His father, Raju, is a peon in the Haryana excise and taxation department.
Deepansh, a resident of Panchkula Sector 20, studies in Class 12 of DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, Chandigarh. "We had reached around 9.30 am and were about to take the plunge when we were washed away. I fell unconscious; someone rescued me," he said. Deepansh said he knew only Arjun, Ravinder and Hitesh. "There was no plan to have liquor," he added.
Akshay, from Panchkula Sector 20, is a student of law at Ludhiana. His father Dr Joginder Singh works in the planning board as deputy director. "He had told me that they were going to Funcity (theme park). But then they decided to come here," rued Joginder.
Samwit Raina, resident of Sector 11 of Panchkula, is an only son. He recently passed Class 12 and is enrolled for a diploma at Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology in Sector 26. His father CN Raina works in a private firm. They had migrated from J&K in 1990. Samwit's mother Rajni was inconsolable. "We had bought him a bike only six months ago," said the father.
Arjun Bisht, a budding karate player, is a student of Class 11 at DAV Senior Secondary School-8 (Chandigarh), from Sector 12, Panchkula. His father Nytervaad Bisht works as a peon in the Haryana Police Housing Corporation, while mother Kamla is a helper for owners of the house in which they reside. "My brother has won many medals in karate. He was second in 2012 at the school level competition, while in 2011 he was first," said Shankar, Arjun's younger brother. "The boy is so sweet and sober," said Lalit Nijhawan, his mother's employer. "Arjun had told us that he had to go to the CBSE office and then school," said the father. The Bishts had migrated from Nepal in 1990.
Pradeep Chaudhary, resident of Panchkula Sector 20, is a polytechnic student at Ambala. He lives with his aunt here. The family remained silent and waiting for a miracle, but in vain till dark.