Indian Embassy officials visit Virginia Tech campus

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Washington, Apr 18: Two senior Indian Embassy officials visited the &13;Virginia Tech campus and promised all help to the Indian students shocked dazed &13;over the Monday's campus carnage, described as the worst in American history.

Minister for Community Affairs in the Embassy Anil Gupta and Consular Officer &13;Kishen Varma last night met the Usha Loganathan, the wife of Professor G V &13;Loganathan, who fell victim along with 31 others to the massacre carried out by &13;Cho Seung-Hui, 23 of South Korean origin.

The two Indian diplomats conveyed Ambassador Ronen Sen's personal condolences &13;to the Professor's bereaved family. The professor, who is survived by his wife &13;and two daughters, had been teaching at the varsity for the past 15 years.

Mr Gupta and Mr Varma also met a representative group of the 600-strong Indian &13;student community which suffered another shock when it was revealed that Minal &13;Panchal, who has been missing since the shoot-out, has been killed.

Later, one of their representatives said the Indian officials promised all &13;possible help. ''Besides, the local Indian community in the greater Washington &13;area is also of great source of strength,'' he said.

The Indian diplomats also held discussions with the vice provost of the &13;International students office of the University.

Earlier, members of the Virginia Tech community assembled to remember and to &13;grieve their departed colleagues. President Bush and Virginia state leaders &13;were also present. Across the United States, flags were flown at half-staff as &13;a sign of mourning.

President Bush offered condolences on behalf of the nation.

''We have come to express our sympathy. And in this time of anguish, I hope &13;you know that people all over this country are thinking about you, and asking &13;God to provide comfort for all who have been affected,'' he said.

Commenting on the incident, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said &13;yesterday that that the incident was ''a terrible tragedy, the likes of which &13;we have not seen in this country ever before.'' He, however, expects the United &13;States will remain a popular destination for foreign students despite the &13;tragedy. ''It is a good environment for students to explore boundaries of &13;knowledge (and) contribute to a body of knowledge in their given area of &13;study.'' Mr McCormack assured prospective students and scholars that &13;university, as well as local, state and federal officials, ''do everything that &13;they believe is prudent, everything that they can to ensure that the students &13;are able to study and thrive in a safe environment.'' Virginia Tech's president &13;Charles Steger told the US television network ABC that ''we are focusing on, &13;one, trying to get a complete investigation and, secondly, trying to work with &13;the families of the students who've been lost.'' All indications are that Cho &13;Seung-Hui was the gunman, responsible for both the incidents - first at a &13;dormitory and then in a classroom, says the police. The weapons, a &13;nine-millimetre handgun and a 22-caliber handgun, that he used has also been &13;recovered.

Cho, a fourth-year student majoring in English literature, arrived in the &13;United States from South Korea as a child in 1992 and was raised in a &13;Washington, DC suburb. He was living in the country as a legal resident alien, &13;retaining his South Korean citizenship.



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