Kolkata: Railway Minister Mukul Roy on Monday said that some injured passengers and a gateman had heard a loud sound when the S-11 coach of Tamil Nadu Express caught fire, but refused to say at this stage whether he suspected sabotage.

"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," Roy said before leaving for the accident site at Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.

Asked if he suspected any act of sabotage, Roy said, "I will not say anything at this stage."

"Nothing is being ruled out and nothing can be said without an investigation. It will be investigated if inflammable substances were in the compartment or it was caused by a short circuit," the minister said.

Roy said he had ordered an inquiry into the fire in the Tamil Nadu Express that has so far left 32 dead and several others injured.

He said that he had spoken to the Railway Board for setting up a high-power committee which would investigate the cause of the fire.

Describing the incident as "very tragic and unfortunate", the minister announced an ex gratia payment of Rs five lakh each to the next of kin of those killed.

He said that Rs one lakh each would also be paid to those with grievous injuries and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.


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