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Speeding train ploughs into pilgrims: 37 killed in India

Angry mob sets fire to the train and attacks its driver

  • By Lata Rani, Correspondent
  • Published: 20:18 August 19, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Indians walk on railroad tracks as train coaches of the Rajya Rani Express, set on fire by an angry mob, burns after the train ploughed into a crowd of Hindu pilgrims at the Dhamara Ghat railway station in Khagaria district, some 248 kilometres (154 miles) from Bihar state capital Patna.

Patna: At least 37 people were killed when an Indian express train ploughed into a crowd of pilgrims crossing the tracks of a railway station in the eastern state of Bihar, prompting an angry mob to set fire to the train and attack its driver, officials said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the victims included 13 women and four children. Dozens of others who sustained injuries were admitted to a local hospital.

The majority of the victims were Hindu pilgrims who were crossing the track — the only way to reach a nearby temple — when the train ran them over at the packed and chaotic station, officials and witnesses said.

Witnesses said the victims had no chance to escape as two other passenger trains had stopped at the Dhamara Ghat station when the Patna-bound Rajya Rani Express barrelled through on the middle of the station’s three tracks. Railway official Arunendra Kumar said some pilgrims were waiting on the tracks thinking they could stop the express train.

Junior railway minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the train staff had not been warned that pilgrims would be gathering at the station, which is about 124 miles from Patna, the capital of Bihar. He said the driver had tried to brake when he saw people on the tracks but was unable to stop. The Rayja Rani Express, a relatively new service connecting large cities, travels at a speed of about 80km per hour and was not scheduled to stop at Dhamara Ghat.

Following the violent protests, both Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Kumar appealed for calm. Singh directed the Railway Ministry to deploy all available resources for rescue and relief operations.

Kumar announced a compensation of Rs200,000 for the family of each victim and free medical treatment for the injured.

But local villagers said negligence on the part of the railway administration and the state government led to the disaster. They said the local administration did not coordinate with the railway officials and ask them to stop train traffic on the route despite Monday being the last date for pilgrims to offer prayers at the temple. The opposition BJP slammed the state government for a delayed response and said it should have used helicopters to rush rescue teams to the spot if the accident site was inaccessible.

Comments (6)

  1. Added 14:22 August 20, 2013

    If there was a foot over bridge this could've been stopped. Now paying compensation is much more than the cost of a bridge.

    Mariakutty, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 13:44 August 20, 2013

    Shows the negligence of people.... Cows, people, road and rails. Its time for the govt to implement strict rules rather than taking the blame. Crossing track is a crime and a punishable act by Indian Railways. But who cares! This attitude caused the accident, and the poor driver was beaten up. I feel sorry for him.

    Nevin, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 12:19 August 20, 2013

    God's way of saying, build a bridge!

    Rajakumar, india, India

  4. Added 12:13 August 20, 2013

    Why on earth were the people crossing Railway track ..... without even being careful ,vigil, reacting on time on seeing a speedy train coming miles away or if the train started in front of them. Ghosh ... really sad to see such lack of wisdom and diligence. Why does it keep happening only in India?

    Tom Thomas Titus, UAE, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 11:56 August 20, 2013

    It is really sad that so many people lost their lives, but its a railway track people need to watch out. They can't expect the speeding train to come to a dead stop in just few meters. How can anyone be careless to be on the track where they are not suppose to be and then blame the Railway that its their fault? ITS A RAILWAY TRACK, its obvious that you have to very careful. I think the people need to be educated.

    Someone with common sense, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:43 August 20, 2013

    Are you kidding me, its like asking the cars to stop on sheikh zayed road and letting people cross. Better than accusing the govt why dont they request the govt to build the bridges to help people cross the tracks with ease and without endagering their lives.

    Gaurav, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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