PATNA, India (AP) — A train ran over Hindu pilgrims crossing railroad tracks in eastern India early Monday, killing at least 35 people, and an angry mob beat the driver severely and set fire to coaches in retaliation, officials said.
The pilgrims were crossing the tracks at the station in Dhamara Ghat, a small town in Bihar state, when they were struck by the Rajya Rani Express train, said Dinesh Chandra Yadav, a local member of parliament. Several other people were injured.
P.N. Rai, a railway official in Bihar, said 35 people had died when the train, running at a high speed, hit people on the track.
Arunendra Kumar, a top railway official, said the Express train was not supposed to halt at Dhamara Ghat and had been given clearance to pass through the station. However, some pilgrims waited on the tracks thinking they could stop the train, he said.
The train stopped a few hundred yards beyond the spot where it hit the pilgrims. Angry mobs then pulled out the train driver and beat him. Yadav said the driver died, but Kumar said the driver was in hospital in critical condition.
The mob then got all the passengers out of the train and set some coaches on fire. Groups of young men also smashed the window panes of two other trains that were in the station.
Monday was the last day of monthlong prayer ceremonies at the Katyayani temple near Dhamara Ghat, a popular Hindu pilgrimage site. The pilgrims were returning from offering morning prayers.