An express train has ploughed into a crowd of Hindu pilgrims in eastern India, killing 37 and triggering a riot that’s left one of the drivers dead and carriages ablaze.
The pilgrims were crossing the tracks at a station in the state of Bihar when the high-speed passenger train struck them, a senior police officer said.
“The death toll is now 37,” SK Bharadwaj, an additional director general of police, said.
Nine women and four children are among the dead.
“Dozens of people have been injured. We do not have exact figures of those injured because they were taken away to various hospitals,” he said.
Angry crowds went on the rampage, attacking the Rajya Rani Express which stopped after the accident. They attacked its drivers, killing one and seriously injuring another.
“One of the drivers of the train who was beaten up by the agitators has died. The other driver is struggling for his life in the hospital,” Bharadwaj said.
The crowd also set carriages on fire and ransacked the station in the small town of Dhamara Ghat, 248km from the state capital Patna.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “expressed deep sorrow and shock at the loss of lives” and appealed for calm.
Suman Kumar Jha, a college student on board the express when it rammed into the pilgrims, said he was “numbed” to see “so much blood all around”.
Bodies were placed in a line alongside the tracks, their faces covered by articles of clothing, as passengers gathered nearby.
Fire and smoke was also seen on TV billowing from carriages and windows smashed.
There are hundreds of accidents on the railways annually.