The Commissioner for Railway Safety (CRS) on Wednesday recorded the statements of 42 witnesses with regard to the Bangalore-Nanded Express tragedy, at Kothacheruvu in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh on December 28.
Despite keeping the proceedings of the inquiry open to the public in the city, no member of the public, including the survivors, deposed.
At the end of the preliminary inquiry, the CRS will submit the report along with a list of recommendations for providing more fire safety equipment on trains. All the witnesses who were examined were from the Railways and the next ones to be questioned are personnel from the Railway Police and other rescuers.
S K Mittal, CRS, Bangalore, said, “None from the public turned up today. I will submit my preliminary inquiry report by the end of this month after taking inputs from forensic experts. I will also give my recommendations on enhancing safety of passengers.”
Officials said that it would take at least a fortnight or so for the forensic experts to come up with a conclusive report. They have collected samples from the burnt coach of the train. Sources said that the cause of the fire has remained a mystery as there are many doubts even on the electrical short-circuiting theory in the AC coach B1 of the train.
Mittal, after examining the witnesses, said that the investigation is in a preliminary stage with only the versions of the witnesses being recorded. These will be corroborated later with the sequence of events when the data from other experts is available, to arrive at a conclusion on what could have happened.
The other inquiry panel led by the chairperson of the Railway Board is also looking into the incident and is conducting certain checks on the coach. The CRS is likely to study the report of that panel also, before reaching any conclusion.