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Train accident kills 21 in eastern India

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August 19, 2014 01:59 AM EST | AP


PATNA, India (AP) — A passenger train struck a crowded rickshaw, killing 21 people at a railway crossing in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, a railway official said Tuesday.

All the passengers and the driver of the motorized rickshaw died in the accident that occurred late Monday near Semra, a town in Bihar, said Vinod Kumar, a railway police superintendent.

The crossing gate was open and the rickshaw was crossing the track when the train hit it, dragging it for about 500 meters (yards), Kumar said.

Among the dead were seven children and six women. They were returning from offering prayers at a temple in nearby Motihari town.

The rickshaw was reduced to a mangled heap of twisted metal. Nineteen of the victims died instantly, while two others died in a hospital, said Arvind Rajak, a railway official.

Semra is about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of the state capital, Patna.

Railway accidents are common in India, which has one of the world's largest networks. More than 23 million passengers daily use India's 11,000 passenger trains. Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

At least 40 people were killed when an express train plowed into a parked freight train in the northern India state of Uttar Pradesh in May.