Indian Embassy officials visit Virginia Tech campus

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Washington, Apr 18: Two senior Indian Embassy officials visited the Virginia Tech campus and promised all help to the Indian students shocked dazed 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 Kishen Varma last night met the Usha Loganathan, the wife of Professor G V Loganathan, who fell victim along with 31 others to the massacre carried out by Cho Seung-Hui, 23 of South Korean origin.

The two Indian diplomats conveyed Ambassador Ronen Sen's personal condolences to the Professor's bereaved family. The professor, who is survived by his wife 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 student community which suffered another shock when it was revealed that Minal Panchal, who has been missing since the shoot-out, has been killed.

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

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

Earlier, members of the Virginia Tech community assembled to remember and to grieve their departed colleagues. President Bush and Virginia state leaders were also present. Across the United States, flags were flown at half-staff as 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 you know that people all over this country are thinking about you, and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected,'' he said.

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

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


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