Fifteen people have been killed in India’s northern state of Utter Pradesh after a train collided with an overcrowded taxi minivan at an unmanned railroad crossing, police say.
The minivan was built to carry 10 people but was transporting 19 when an express train travelling between Mathura and Kasganj crashed into the back of the vehicle and threw it off the track near Madu railway station in Hathras early Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
The passengers had been returning to their village from a funeral. A state home ministry official told the Agence France Presse that the minivan “was thrown 20 feet (six meters) away”, adding that the driver and 14 passengers were killed instantly.
The four survivors are being treated at a hospital for injuries.
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Many rail crossings in India – which has one of the world’s busiest rail networks – are unmanned and lack functioning signals, meaning train accidents are common.
A recent official report revealed that almost 15,000 people are killed each year crossing rail tracks, a figure described the government as a “massacre.”
Last July at least 38 people died after a train struck a bus carrying wedding guests at a level crossing in Patiyali, Utter Pradesh, according to the BBC. That same month a packed express train travelling from Kolkata to New Delhi derailed in the state, killing 69 passengers.
Last week National Rail Minister Dinesh Trivedi, who has since been forced out of government, pledged to make safety his top priority, and raised train fares for the first time in nearly a decade.
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