Fateh Singh, a 19-year-old undergraduate student, cannot believe that four of his friends are no more. He is one of the three survivors of the flashflood on May 10 in which four youths and their guide were washed away at Sunni in Shimla.
On Sunday, when The Indian Express visited his Ranewal village in S B S Nagar, he was quiet, visibly shaken and distraught. He gathered the courage to tell the story of what happened to his group of tourists on that fateful day.
“We left for Shimla on May 9 and went to Tatta Pani the next day,” he said. “There, we met Tony. He offered to show us all the popular tourist spots for Rs 8,000. We agreed.”
“We were planning to go rafting. But suddenly the sky grew dark and there were claps of thunder,” he continued. “This was around 2 pm. We thought that it was rather odd and decided to not risk going any further. We parked on the side. That’s when the rain started.”
“We had switched off the engine and were talking among ourselves when the rains grew in intensity,” he said. “Suddenly there was a loud noise and something hit the top of our vehicle hard. It did not stop. It kept coming and coming and we started panicking.”
“I don’t know how I escaped. I remember being covered in mud and pulled out by some people,” said Fateh. “I asked for my friends and they told me that two persons were also rescued and were sent to a local hospital.”
Kanwaljeet Singh (20) and Sukhbir Singh (22) were the other two who were rescued that day. Flashfloods due to ‘The sky grew dark, soon we were tumbling down to Sutlej’ sudden heavy rains are common in Shimla and almost impossible to predict. Rescue teams are yet to find any trace of Avonjot Singh (17), Saranjeet Singh (23), Hardeep Singh (20) and Amanpreet Singh (20) and their guide Tony. Mangled remains of the car was recovered earlier this week. People who knew the area and such disasters claim that nothing could have survived it.
The toll was especially hard on Kanwaljeet. Harmesh Singh, his father, said that Kanwaljeet attempted suicide by jumping into the Sutlej when he realised that he had lost four of his friends in the flashflood. “Local residents saved him once more,” he said. Kanwaljeet refused to talk about the incident.
Sukhbir Singh was preparing for the IELTS, a language proficiency test, when he decided to join his friends for the trip. “It all happened within seconds. I remember being thrown out of the car when it tumbled and got hold of the root of a tree and hung on to it for dear life,” he said. “Once the rains weakened, I pulled myself onto the road. There were some people there but no one knew that there was a car parked there just moments ago.”