Four days on, the National Disaster Response force is unable to locate the five missing persons, who were washed away in the flash flood triggered by cloudburst on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the NDRF used sensors to locate the missing people. After having failed, the administration decided to bring in sniffer dogs. On Friday, soon after the search operation resumed, two sniffer dogs—Dora and Tyra— were deployed on the spot-left bank of Sutlej but could not smell the success.
In the sweltering heat, the search operation was going on in Loti Khad where 15ft layer of debris was deposited after the flashflood. Eight people, including seven from Rahenwal village of Nawanshahr in Punjab, had been washed away. Three people were rescued on the same day.
The police officer said sniffer dogs are able to smell objects even from a distance of 45 feet but here these have failed to smell anything.
“The bodies are either buried deep in the debris or washed away in the river as sniffer dogs couldn’t smell anything,” he said.
Police, home guard and fire brigade were deployed in the rescue operation initially. Ill-equipped state machinery finally called the national disaster response force (NDRF).
On its second day NDRF, operating its standard operating procedures (SOPs) maintained that the possibility of retrieving bodies of missing person is very low.
“So far we have not succeeded in finding anything, except a part of vehicle’s wreckage. There is thick layer of debris deposited in the Khad and it is not possible to engage some machine,” incharge of 28-member NDRF team inspector Gobind Singh told Hindustan Times.
He said divers tried to search bodies in the river on Thursday but due to the strong river current it wasn’t possible. “We will continue our operation till the order of instant commander—ADM protocol.
Family members of ‘missing’ youth were also present on the spot. Disappointed relatives said it’s not that administration is not helping or working but circumstances are adverse. “The layer of debris is about 10-15 feet thick and the pace of flow of eater in Sutlej river is high,” Avtar Singh said.
Barring the wreckage of the Scorpio vehicle, nothing has been found, additional district magistrate (ADM) protocol Sunil Sharma said, who has been overseeing the search operation.
NDRF rafters were in river for long but did not dive in due to the pace of flow of water. The team also used modern technology to search the bodies in the debris. Shimla deputy commissioner Rohan Chand Thakur said the possibility of finding bodies is ‘low’ and that’s why the dog squad has been called for the operation. He said the operation will continue on Friday.
Rescued people have been identified as Fatah Singh, Sukhveer and Kamaljeet while the missing tourists are Sharanpreet, Hardeep, Evanjot and Aman Singh from Rahenwal village in Nawanshahr. The tourist guide is identified as Pinku from Sirmaur district who is also among those missing. The rescued youth had been discharged from the hospital on Wednesday.