Struggling to locate the 34 missing passengers of the Manikaran-bound bus that plunged into the Parvati river on July 23, the state government has turned to the navy for assistance using the sonar (sound, navigation and ranging) technology.
"We have sent a request to deploy navy personnel equipped with sonar equipment to trace the missing pilgrims underwater, as the turbulent and muddy river water is a major hindrance in the search operation," Kullu additional district magistrate Vinay Singh Thakur said.
Meanwhile, 160 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Himachal Police and Home Guard are continuing to look for bodies on the 30km river stretch between the accident site near Sarsari village and Larji dam
So far, 12 bodies have been fished out from the river, while 34 pilgrims are missing. There were 69 passengers, all from Punjab, on board the bus.
On Wednesday, the search teams found some wreckage of the bus, 3 km downstream from the accident site, but could not trace any more victims.
The state government has given cheques for `3.75 lakh each to the families of the deceased through the deputy commissioners of districts concerned in Punjab, while `25,000 were given immediately after the accident. On the other hand, relatives of the missing pilgrims are dismayed with the indifferent attitude of the Punjab government that is yet to send any of its ministers to Kullu to assess the situation or meet the victims' families.