SINGAPORE - It started like any ordinary Sunday evening for 33-year-old Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu: a trip to Little India for dinner and drinks with friends.

But, by the end of the night, the scaffolding-company worker was pinned under a bus, his death sparking off Singapore's worst riot in decades.

Yesterday, police revealed that he was drunk when he attempted to board an already-full chartered bus to his Jurong dorm. He even dropped his trousers.

Forced off the vehicle, he wandered off and was later knocked down. The driver has since been arrested for causing death by a negligent act.

But just how the accident turned into a violent riot remains a mystery. At first, the anger was directed at the bus staff. Then its focus shifted to police and rescue officers, 34 of whom were injured while 16 police cars were damaged.

Did the crowd take offence at being asked to keep their distance while the officers tried to do their job, as some speculated online?

A police spokesman said extricating the body was made "extremely difficult" as the crowd had become "boisterous".

A committee of inquiry will be convened to get to the bottom of the matter, promised Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday. It will look into the factors that contributed to this "very serious incident" and how it was handled on the ground.

Many are attempting to make sense of the situation.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, who is the MP for the area, said that, based on what he observed on Sunday night as some who were taken into custody, "alcohol could have been a contributory factor". He noted that beer bottles and cans were among the objects hurled at vehicles during the riot.

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