Indian train kills at least 34 crossing track, triggers protest

NEW DELHI Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:38am EDT

1 of 2. Burnt carriages of a train that were set on fire by protesters are pictured at Khagaria in the eastern Indian state of Bihar August 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A train killed at least 34 people crossing a railway track in eastern India on Monday, triggering a protest by passengers who beat the driver unconscious, attacked other staff and torched a carriage, officials and media said.

Railways spokesman Anil Saxena said that some of those hit by the express train were Hindu pilgrims who had left two trains at Dhamara station, 180 km (110 miles) east of Patna, the capital of Bihar state. Reports said dozens were injured.

"Passengers got out of the train, came on the track and they were moving on that track. That is the time they got run over," Arunendra Kumar, chairman of the Railway Board, told a news conference in New Delhi.

About 40 people on average die every day on India's vast but decrepit railway network. Many of the victims are slum dwellers who live near the lines and use them as open toilets. Some passengers fall off overcrowded commuter trains.

(Reporting By Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Nick Macfie)