LUCKNOW, India – Eighteen young job seekers riding on the roof of an overcrowded train were killed when they slammed into a low overhead bridge in northern India, police said Wednesday.
They had been among about 200,000 people who had attempted to apply for just 461 jobs being offered by an Indian paramilitary force.
The unexpected turnout forced the Indo-Tibetan Border Force to postpone the recruitment Tuesday in Bareilly, a town about 115 miles (180 kilometers) southwest of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.
Infuriated by the decision, the job seekers burned five buses and a gas station during street protests in the town, said Brij Lal, a senior police officer.
They later crammed into trains to return home, and those who could not get into the coaches climbed onto the roofs, Lal told The Associated Press.
Fourteen were killed on the spot when they were hit by the overhead bridge and fell to the ground, while four others died overnight in a hospital, Lal said. Nine others remained hospitalized, he said.
Accidents are common on India's sprawling rail network, one of the world's largest. Most are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.