NEW DELHI, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — Some 37 people, including several women and children, were killed and more than 40 others injured after being run over by a speeding train at a remote railway station in the eastern Indian state of Bihar Monday, a senior police official said.
“The mishap happened when the victims, mainly Hindu pilgrims on way to a local fair, were crossing railway tracks at the remote Dhamara station, some 200 kms from state capital Patna. The superfast Rajyarani Express mowed them down, killing at least 37 people on the spot and injuring 40 others who have been admitted to a nearby hospital where some are said to be serious,” he said.
The death toll may rise later in the day, the official said, on condition of anonymity.
Indian Railways officials said that the speeding train did not slow down at the station as it was not a scheduled stop for it. Moreover, the train, which plies between Saharsa and Patna, was on track number three which was a non-stop track, they said, adding that the driver of the train has been nearly lynched by an angry mob. “He has been admitted to the hospital where he is battling for his life,” they added.
“Two special relief trains have been sent and a huge contingent of police, including railway protection force personnel, has also been deployed in the area,” a senior railway official said in the national capital.
Local TV channels showed footage of bodies lying on side of railway tracks as the mob went on a rampage, setting fire on the Dhamara station as well as two trains, apart from the Rajyarani Express.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have appealed for calm. “It is the rarest of rare incidents,” the Chief Minister said, adding that post mortems would be conducted on the spot.
The chief minister has also announced a compensation of two lakh rupees (4,000 U.S. dollars) each for the families of those killed in the incident.
The state-owned Indian Railways operates 9,000 passenger trains, carrying 18 million people daily.
In India, many people are run over every year by trains because of unmanned crossings as well as they don’t use over bridges to cross tracks. In fact, more than 1,200 people were reportedly killed in rail mishaps in India in the past five years.