A search has resumed for some 24 students who have been swept away by a sudden surge of water in India’s Himachal Pradesh state, officials say.

Senior official Devesh Kumar told BBC Hindi that three bodies had been discovered from the Beas river in Kullu valley where the incident happened,

The surge was a result of water being released from an upstream dam, he said.

The students had reportedly left a bus to take photographs when the surge occurred.

The incident took place some 200km (125 miles) from the state capital, Shimla, as the students from an engineering college in the southern city of Hyderabad were travelling to the popular tourist resort of Manali.

Baldev Chauhan, a Shimla-based journalist, says angry locals and tourists blocked traffic on the busy road on Sunday, asking why there was no warning before the dam released the water.

“The students had got off the bus to take photographs at the edge of the river at around 19:30 when the sudden rise of the water washed them away,” Himachal Transport Minister GS Bali said.

Rakesh Kanwar, a senior state government official, said: “The water was released by the Larji power project dam.”

A few students noticed the sudden surge in water and managed to run away from the site, reports said.

“We saw a wall of water hit those who were on the banks. They fell flat and disappeared under the waves. The police reached very late and carried nothing to start a rescue operation,” Sumiran, one of the survivors, told The Indian Express newspaper.