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Train crashes into taxi in India, killing 8

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
  • A train slams into an auto-rickshaw, killing taxi passengers
  • Auto-rickshaws are a common form of transportation in India
  • More than 15,000 rail crossing gates were unguarded as of April
  • India

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Eight people were killed when a train rammed into a three-wheeled taxi crossing an unguarded railroad in eastern India, authorities said Sunday.

The crash occurred Saturday in Bihar state when the three-wheeled taxi, also called an auto-rickshaw, got in the way of a New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express, railway spokesman Anil Saxena said.

Three-wheeled taxis are a common mode of passenger and freight transport in Indian cities, towns and villages.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee announced financial aid of about $4,440 for families of each of the eight taxi passengers killed, Saxena said.

India's massive rail network is used by hundreds of thousands of people every day. However, as many as 15,993 rail-crossing gates remained unguarded as of April 1, junior railway minister E. Ahamed said two months ago.

India plans to post guards and build subways and underpasses at such locations in the next five years, officials said.

The country's rail-safety record is also marred by dozens of wrecks every year.

Official figures suggest India had 115 train accidents in the 2008-09 fiscal year and 100 in 2009-10.