Over a month after a Manikaran-bound bus plunged into the Parvati river in Bhuntar, Kullu, the district administration has pulled out the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team searching for the missing pilgrims.
Meanwhile, one unidentified body was fished out from near Larji dam site on Friday. Talking to Hindustan Times, Kullu additional district magistrate Vinay Singh Thakur said through its search operation between the accident side near Sarsari village and Larji dam, the NDRF team had fished out 22 bodies so far, while 24 passengers were still missing.
Though the NDRF had pulled out, police and home guard personnel would continue to search for the victims, he added. Even the family members of the missing pilgrims who had been stayed in Kullu town for over a month in hope of finding their kin have left for their native places.
There were 69 people on board the 52-seater bus. While 23 had escaped with injuries, 36 were swept away in the turbulent waters of the Parvati.
Right after the accident, the state government had launched a massive rescue operation in the area deploying about 600 personnel of the NDRF, Himachal Police, Home Guard, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sashastra Seema Bal and divers from the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). Even a team from Indian Navy comprising expert divers equipped with hand-held and side sonars, two rubberised boats and two hydrographers had launched a search operation in the area on August 1.
However, due to the tumultuous and muddy waters of the Parvati river, the team failed to find any success and retreated a week later.