A day after horrifying fire accident aboard the Chennai bound Tamil Nadu Express killed 32 people, railway officials were trying hard to identify the charred remains of the passengers and hand them over to their families.
So far, only 14 bodies have been identified and 18 bodies have been kept at Nellore's government hospitals awaiting their identification. The identified include six from Andhra Pradesh, three from Amritsar and five from Chennai. The body of Shalini, a software engineer was brought to Hyderabad for the last rites.
A large number of relatives of the victims had gathered in Nellore, waiting for the bodies. Officials say that the bodies have been charged, and it is a hard task to identify them. They have taken the help of DNA experts to identify; a process which will take three days.
Frustrated over the delay, angry relatives held a demonstration at Nellore railway station demanding immediate handing over of the bodies. They charged the officials with laxity and failure.
Meanwhile, suspicions were being expressed that short circuit could not have been the cause of the massive fire which gutted the compartment within minutes. Some of the eyewitnesses have said that they heard an explosion before the fire broke out near the toilets. They suspected either crackers or some other inflammable material was kept there.
In view of the suspicion of a foul play, a team of forensic experts from Hyderabad examined the burnt S-11 compartment.
The completely gutted bogey has been parked on the platform No 5 of the Nellore Railway station and it is being guarded around the clock. The team members also went through the burnt material and damaged goods including some mobile phones and electronic goods that recovered from the compartments.
The investigations have assumed significance in view of the statements of some of the survivors including one seriously injured Madan Lal, that they had heard sounds of an explosion.
Madanlal, who is undergoing treatment in the super specialty ward of a private hospital in Nellore told the police that he heard three explosions when the fire broke out in the compartment.
The forensic team will conduct a detailed examination of the material to see whether any inflammable materials were there in the compartment and whether the extensive burning of the compartment was because of such material.
The team will submit its report to the Railways.
Minister for Railways Mukul Roy, while not ruling out the possibility of a blast, quoted the eyewitnesses as saying that there was a loud noise in the compartment."Nothing is being ruled out", he said whether he was indicating towards the possibility of sabotage behind the fire in the train, adding that a thorough probe has been ordered. The minister reached Nellore late Monday evening, visited the scene of the accident and also visited the survivors in hospitals.