PMK founder, Dr S Ramdoss is quoted as saying that "It was an attempt to disrupt the election process in the country", adding "only a full enquiry into the accident would reveal the truth".
This may be an attempt to politicise the tragedy in the face of the forthcoming elections and the actions of a number of separatist groups active in the country.
The statement comes as the chief commissioner for rail safety arrived at Gaisal to head a commission of inquiry to look into all aspects of railway safety. The accident, which occurred at 01:55 (local time) on Monday August 2 is one of the worst to have occurred on Indian Railways. Two trains, the Brahmputra Mail train and the Awadh-Assam Express met in a head-on collision near Gaisal station in West Bengal.
Although the death toll is not as high as was at first feared, it has grown remorselessly as rescuers have endeavoured to prise mangled carriages from one another. The number of dead is now said to be 283. According to one report, there may still be as many as 40 bodies sandwiched in the wreckage. Locally, it is thought that the final toll will "float around 300". The number of injured is 310 according to a statement from Indian Railways. IR has published a list of those injured and admitted to hospital.
Dr Ramdoss has also requested that India's Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar withdraw his resignation which he made on Tuesday. He has urged him to follow the Prime Minister's request. Mr Kumar tendered his resignation to "own moral responsibility" for the accident.
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This file last updated: Saturday, 04-Sep-1999 08:56:09 EDT
Copyright © David Fry 1999