Nellore (Andhra Pradesh): More than 48 hours after a fire that broke out in the Tamil Nadu Express at Nellore, killing 28 passengers, new leads have emerged that strengthen the possibility of sabotage.
Forensic experts are sniffing out clues and bits and pieces of evidence from the ill-fated burnt S-11 coach of the train.
The presence of such officers, who specialise in investigating blasts, is an indication of an important angle being looked at.
The versions of passengers who survived the tragedy are being carefully studied. Some of them had said that they heard the sound of an explosion.
“Yes, many passengers have told us that they heard a blast like sound before the fire,” said Fredrick R Michael, Senior PRO, South Central Railway.
And that’s not the only pointer to something sinister. The amount of smoke that emanated from the compartment, survivors feel, was way beyond what is normally associated with a short circuit.
“I’ve heard reports that it was a short circuit. But I remember seeing the lights on after the fire broke out,” said Prashansa Bansal, one of the survivors of the tragedy.
Many passengers have also complained about a burning sensation in their eyes suggesting the presence of chemicals in the smoke that engulfed the coach.
“My father’s eyes have been affected. He had complained of a burning sensation,” said Ms Bansal.
What has raised further suspicion was the presence of group of youngsters in the compartment who didn’t seem to have any luggage.
“There were some young men who were behaving strangely and they didn’t have any luggage or even a ticket I think,” said Ms Bansal.
The fire was first noticed by Nellore station manager at 4.15 am and the train was immediately brought to a halt. The fire could be controlled only at around 5.30 am after two fire engines reached the spot.
Railways Minister Mukul Roy too had said that the possibility of sabotage cannot be ruled out. “I am not excluding anything. I got a call from the Divisional Railway Manager that there was a report of a blast. I don’t want to dwell on it further since you will infer that I am trying to divert the cause of the mishap to another direction,” Mr Roy told reporters on Monday.
Later, he added, “Some of the injured passengers admitted to hospitals and a gateman at one of the level crossings near Nellore station heard a loud sound when the fire occurred in the coach.”
Mr Roy said he had spoken to the Railway Board for setting up a high-power committee which would investigate the cause of the fire.