Saturday brought disappointment for the parents as well as the rescue teams, as the intensive special search operation to trace bodies of missing Hyderabad-based students, failed to yield result, even as the water level of the Beas river was lowered to a minimum possible level.
The search operation involving 450 personals of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Shastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Police Border Police (ITBP), naval divers and the state police started at 7am in the morning.
Water flow from the Parbati- 3 power project dam was completely stopped, while the water in Larji project was diverted through a tail-race tunnel resulting into a lower water level in the Beas.
In spite of the rescue forces combing the 3km stretch from the incident site to Doada for two and a half hour, no missing body was traced. The special search operation ended at 9.30am.
NDRF commandant Jaideep Singh said they were expecting to dry up the Beas in the 3km stretch, but it did not happen due to continues seepage from the Larji dam.
"Unfortunately the water level in the Beas could not be lowered to the level which we were expecting. Despite an intensive joint effort, no missing body could be traced," said Singh.
He said there were chances that the bodies have got buried under layers of silt that comes with the water released from the dam.
Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Devesh Kumar said the rescue teams have searched every nook and corner of the river and 80% chances were that the bodies have been washed away towards the Pandoh Dam by strong currents of the Beas river.
"Now we are left with three alternatives. Tomorrow we're deploying site scan radar to get imagery of the riverbed. If any body is buried under the mild silt, the equipment will give us its shape and it could be extricated," said Kumar, adding that the radar will be used in the Pandoh Dam reservoir.
The second alternative, Kumar said, was to open the floodgates of the Pandoh Dam so that the bodies, if they are in the reservoir, could be flushed out.
"We can retrieve the bodies from the shallow water in Pandoh Dam downstream," said Kumar.
He added the third alternative was to wait for one week, as local resource persons have told us that temperature in the Beas River is very low the bodies will take time to float. This has also happened in the past when bodies came floating to the surface after 20 days.
On Sunday, the efforts would be made to trace out the bodies with the help of radar. "We had a meeting with parents of missing students and they have been given the time to decide upon which option should be used. We will go by parents' decision," he added.