A pall of gloom descended on Ranewal and Chahrmajra villages of this district as the news spread that four youths were swept away in the Sutlej on Tuesday evening after a cloudburst led to a flash flood in a rivulet near Sunni, 60 km from Shimla.
Residents of both villages are hoping that Sharanpreet Singh (22), Hardeep Singh (20), Evanjot Singh (20) from Ranewal and Amanpreet Singh (20) of Chahrmajra are traced safely.
They, along with friends Fateh Singh (21), Kamaljeet Singh (20) and Sukhvir Singh (24) of Ranewal village had left Ranewal for Shimla in Sharanpreet’s Bolero on a vacation on May 8. The three have been rescued and they suffered minor injuries.
The victims, who are missing, are only sons and their family members are in a state of shock.
Speaking to HT, Jasmine Kaur, Fateh’s sister, said her brother had called them on Tuesday noon saying they would come back on Wednesday morning. She said her family got the information about the tragedy on Wednesday morning after which her father Baldev Singh, a farmer, along with others, left for Shimla.
“Fateh told me that they had parked the Bolero on one side of the road near a river at Sunni on Tuesday when heavy rain started around 6pm and suddenly a heavy stone hit the car and three of them fell on the road after the windows were flung open,” Jasmine said, adding that within seconds, there was a cloudburst that swept the vehicle and other occupants. The three, along with their families, are on their way back, Kaur said.
Bhavjot Singh and Nirmal Singh, friends of the youths, said those who had gone on the trip kept them posted about their trip on WhatsApp by sending them selfies and videos. “We were waiting for them to return on Wednesday morning. We can’t believe what has happened.”
On Wednesday morning, SDM Jiwan Jagjot visited the families and talked about rescue operations being carried out. Deputy commissioner Vipul Ujwal said as soon as they got the information on Tuesday night, the SDM was deputed as the nodal officer and Shimla administration had also called the National Disaster Response Force team for the rescue operation. “There is no information about the missing boys but we are praying for their safety,” the DC said, adding that they were in touch with officials in Shimla.
State youth Congress chief Vikramaditya Singh also met the relatives of missing boys, who urged him to step up the rescue efforts. He said authorities concerned would ensure that relief is provided to the affected.
Meanwhile, senior deputy commissioner (rural) GC Negi told PTI that a massive search operation, comprising policemen, home guards, fire department personnel, was mounted, who located the debris of the vehicle but failed to trace the five missing persons. He said that the chances of their survival are very slim and the bodies are feared trapped under the debris, 15-20 feet in Loti Nallah. The nallah is a few metres away from Sutlej and the bodies could be easily located if they flow into the river, he said.