At least 35 people have killed in the Indian state of Bihar after an express train ran over a crowd of people crossing the railroad tracks at the station in Dhamara Ghat.

Victims hit by the Rajya Rani Express were mostly Hindu pilgrims who had stepped off a local train and were crossing the tracks near the Dhamara railway station on the Saharsa-Mansi route of the East Central Railway (ECR).

The train was on its way to Patna from Saharsa when the accident took place at around 8am local time in Bihar’s Khagaria district.

The death toll is expected to rise as other people were badly injured and officials are having difficulty reaching the accident site because of protests by local people following the accident.

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Six carriages of the Rajya Rani Express were set on fire after it stopped a few hundred yards after hitting the pilgrims; the train driver was attacked by an angry crowd, leaving him in critical condition.

According to reports, dead bodies were on rail tracks for hours as the violence made it difficult for rescue and relief teams to reach the site, which is accessible only by rail.

According to a railway official, the train was not supposed to halt at Dhamara Ghat and had been given clearance to pass through the station.

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