"Going by contents of news items, it is a sad tale that sheer fun of young students turned fatal as a consequence of utter and callous negligence of power project authorities," Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan said.

"In case the water was discharged without any warning as alleged, then prima facie it is established that it is not only a case of callousness but a case of grave negligence on the part of project authorities," he said.

20 students still missing as rescuers begin search operation in Himachal

"It cannot even be said to be an error of judgment or accident inasmuch as it is the duty of the authorities to at least issue a warning and resort to usual and common method of blaring the siren to ensure evacuation of the river bank before discharging the water. Therefore, the project authorities have prima facie displayed callous and wanton disregard to their duties," the judge said.

He asked the government to file a status report with special reference to the cause of incident and details of the steps taken with regard to relief and rescue operations.

Bodies of five students, who were washed away in the turbulent water of Beas river along with 19 classmates and a tour operator, were found on Monday.

Search continued for the 19 students and tour operator Prahlad who were engaged in a photo session on the bank of Beas when they were swept away due to sudden discharge of water in the river.

(Agencies)

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