Oil Found Near Austrian Death Train Had No Part in Tragedy

Published November 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Experts have ruled out that an oily substance found near the scene of Austria's funicular train blaze played a role in the disaster, a forensic investigator told AFP Tuesday. 

The oil was found last week on the tracks leading into the tunnel where the blaze occurred, and it was thought it may provide a clue to the blaze on the Kitzsteinhorn funicular on November 11, which left 155 dead. 

But chemical analysis has now shown it to be the lubricating grease used by the funicular company to oil mechanical parts. 

"It has absolutely no meaning whatsoever," said Volker Edlinger, the head of forensic investigations department of the Austrian interior ministry, saying his team had eliminated any possible link between the substance and the blaze. 

The quantities involved "were tiny", he added. 

The German magazine Focus reported this week that the funicular blaze on November 11 was caused through the leakage of 50 litres of flammable hydraulic fluid which caught fire, in turn causing gas canisters to explode. 

Edlinger ruled out the explanation, saying he had "no idea where this came from". 

After hitting a brick wall with the lubricating grease, experts are now looking at a "red substance" that was also found on the tracks, Edlinger said. He added that experts were to return to the site when the train had been removed from the tunnel. 

"I hope that will be in a week, but at the moment it looks more like two," he said. 

A total of 155 people died when fire ripped through a funicular train carrying skiers and snowboarders up to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier on November 11. 

The victims who died in Austria's worst post-war disaster included Austrians, Germans, Japanese, US nationals, Slovenians, Dutch, British and Czech citizens -- VIENNA (AFP)  

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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