As many as 24 students from an engineering college in Hyderabad were missing and feared drowned after water was released from the Larji Dam into the Beas river in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh this evening, official sources said.
District officials in Mandi told NetIndian over the telephone that the students -- 18 boys and six girls -- were on a trip to the area and were taking photographs and playing around in the shallow river when extra water was released from the dam suddenly around 7 pm today.
People on the banks of the river alerted the students to the sudden surge in water levels, but all of them were swept away by the water before they could move to safety, they said.
Emergency teams were rushed to the spot and were trying to search for the missing students with help of searchlights and other such facilities.
The officials said that, at daybreak tomorrow, they would deploy rafts and divers in a bid to search for and rescue the students.
Officials of Kullu district also joined the rescue efforts.
According to the officials, the students had come on a sight-seeing trip from the VNR Vignana College of Engineering and Technology near Hyderabad.