Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory experts have found traces of chemicals used in fire-crackers from the samples collected from the ill-fated Tamil Nadu Express which caught fire on Monday last, killing 34 passengers till date.
The experts are, however, are not forthcoming whether crackers caused the fire in coach S-11.
An APFSL team visited the train and collected samples. Among other pieces of evidence, the forensic team is learnt to have recovered a suitcase locked under a lower berth with metal chain and two money purses in the fourth coupe near berth numbers 19-24. They also found damaged laptop and mobile phone components in the middle of the coach.
The forensic team led by additional director Venkateswarlu has completed its work and handed over the samples to the Government Railway Police as per norms. The samples are yet to reach the APFSL in Hyderabad and the forensic report will be submitted to the authorities concerned within 10 days after the arrival of the samples.
Ever since the fire occurred in the wee hours of July 30, there have been different theories over the cause of fire ranging from sabotage to electric short-circuit. But the forensic team has ruled out these theories. Just a day ago Union minister of state for railways KH Muniyappa told reporters at Tirupati that there was no chance of electrical short-circuit and said the government suspected sabotage to be the reason.
When contacted, APFSL director O Narayana Murthy told Express that the forensic team that went from Hyderabad to Nellore had found residues of chemicals used in fire-crackers in the samples collected from the train. However, he refused to explain further on the issue stating that any conclusions over the cause of fire can be drawn only after conducting a thorough analysis of the samples.
According to sources, though the APFSL is yet to ascertain the cause of the fire, the presence of chemicals used in fire- crackers can be the reason for the fire to spread fast and the loud sounds heard by some passengers.
“Perhaps, the electric short-circuit might have triggered the fire. There could be many reasons for a short-circuit such as charging of a laptop or a mobile from a power point,” the sources said. The burning of Rexine and synthetic sponge used in the berth cushions is also being viewed as one of the reasons for the fast spread of the fire.