Five members of a family, including two women and three children, drowned when their car fell into Shah Nehar in Talwara, 75 km from Hoshiarpur, on Wednesday.
The bodies and the ill-fated vehicle were recovered in the evening, 100 metres from the accident site. The Santro car was being driven by Harish Thakur, 30, a resident of Ram Nangal village near Talwara. He survived the accident and was immediately admitted to the Bhakra-Beas Management Board (BBMB) hospital. Those who drowned in the canal included his sister Suman, 38, his sister-in-law Aruna, Suman's two daughters Shivani, 12, Tanu, 9, and son Nannu, 3. The deceased Suman's husband had died about a month ago.
Police and civil officials reached the spot and asked the irrigation authorities to cut the flow of water in the canal. Divers from Unchi Bassi and water sports team from Pong Dam was called and a crane was pressed into service to retrieve the bodies stuck in the car. Sources revealed that when the crane lifted the car, two bodies fell into the canal, which were later recovered by the divers.
The survivor, who was in a state of shock, told the police that the family was on its way to Dhameta village in Himachal Pardesh's Kangra district.
Mukerian assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Nanak Singh said the police were told about the accident at 11.30 am.
Locals said when the car skidded off the road and fell into the canal near the gram panchayat water works, the driver fell out of the vehicle. He was rescued by passersby. "Some women immediately made a rope with their dupattas and dropped it into the water to rescue the driver," they claimed. Locals said a car had fell into the canal at the same spot about five years ago, killing all five occupants.