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An express train drove through a crowd of Hindu pilgrims trying to cross the tracks, killing at least 37 people and starting a riot that left one conductor severely injured.
At least 37 people died Monday when a high-speed express train struck a group of Hindu pilgrims crossing the tracks near a remote station in the Indian state of Bihar, officials say.
The train apparently stopped as soon as it could, but soon an angry mob had set fire to some of its coaches and severely assaulted at least one conductor.
"Soon, groups of people began running toward the engine. They asked us to get down from the train. Some of them pulled out the driver and his assistant and began beating them," witness and train passenger Kumar Ashutosh told the Associated Press.
On television a railway official said police assistance was required to access the crash site.
"Some angry people attacked the train driver and seriously injured him," a police official said, according to the Guardian. "They beat him up mercilessly. Some railway officials are also being held hostage."
Protesters, including local villagers and Hindu pilgrims, stopped firefighters from entering the area. A rescue train, on its way to Dhamara Ghat, had been stopped at Saharsa, about 175 miles away from the scene, after the tracks were blocked.
The train, traveling at high speed, was not scheduled to stop at the Dhamara Ghat station, and had been told to pass by without stopping, railway officials told the BBC.
The pilgrims were on their way to a Shiva temple.