"--Indo-Asian news Service"
Shimla, June 8 - At least 24 students, including six girls, of an engineering college in Hyderabad were reported missing Sunday after strong currents in the mighty Beas river in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district washed them away, an official said.

More than 50 students - from V.N.R. Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology - were on an excursion from the picturesque tourist resort of Manali and were getting themselves photographed on the banks of the river in Thalaut area near Aut when they were reportedly washed away as the flow in the river suddenly increased, Mandi Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar told IANS.

A rescue operation was on but no body had yet been fished out. The incident occurred around 7 p.m.

Suddenly, the water level of the river increased reportedly due to water being released from the Larji hydro project, said a police official.

He said the students were swept away in the swollen river.

Official sources said the Beas river was in spate due to thawing of glaciers and melting of snow in the higher reaches of Manali.

--Indo-Asian news Service

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