Two Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel from the Pathankot airbase were drowned and three airmen were hospitalised after the water level in the Ravi river suddenly rose near Chamba town on Saturday evening.
The dead were identified as corporal Shakti Singh, 30, of Jaipur in Rajasthan and corporal Nitesh Mishra, 26 from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. Airmen Naval Pandey, Naveen Sharma and Gajender Singh were admitted to the Chamba Civil Hospital.
Deputy commissioner Sudesh Mokhta said, “The five were clicking photos on the river bank near Chamba town when the water level in the Ravi suddenly rose and swept them away. Nitesh and Shakti were drowned, while the three others managed to swim to safety.”
The district authorities were informed about the accident following which a search was launched. The bodies of the two IAF personnel were recovered on Sunday morning.
Sources said that the water level in the river rose when surplus water was discharged from the Chamera-2 dam of the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) located upstream.
The sources said that it is suspected that the airmen did not hear the alert sounded through a siren by the NHPC authorities.
A magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident. “Additional district magistrate (ADM) Shubhkaran Singh will hold the investigation and submit a report in 15 days,” the deputy commissioner said.
Twenty-four engineering students of a private college from Hyderabad were washed away when they were clicking photos on the bank of the Beas river on June 8, 2014. The water level suddenly rose when the Larji dam authorities released surplus water into the river, causing one of the worst tragedies of its kind in the state.
In December last year, eight people were swept away in the Chandrabhaga in the tribal Pangi valley of Chamba district when their vehicle veered off the road and fell into the river. The bodies were found after a week-long search.