An express train in eastern India on Monday slammed into a group of Hindu pilgrims, killing at least 37 people and injuring dozens, CNN reported. 

The passengers, mostly Hindu pilgrims, who were headed to a nearby temple were getting off a local train when a fast-moving express train collided with them. Onlookers at the station then proceeded to set several carriages ablaze, attack engineers and a station guard and even took other railroad workers hostage, the report said.  

The incident took place just after 9 a.m. local time at Dhamara station in the eastern state of Bihar.

"It's very difficult to give exact number of casualties right now as bodies are badly crushed," a top Bihar police official, S.K. Bharadwaj, said. "It is difficult to reach the spot as there is poor road connectivity in the area and protesters are hindering rescue operations."

Railway officials have said the pilgrims may have been unaware it was an express train not scheduled to stop at the station. 

As rescue parties searched the wreckage, police said the death toll could rise and train service on the route has been temporarily suspended while a preliminary investigation is carried out.

India’s state-owned rail network carries more than 23 million people a day and is the main form of transport in the country. More than 15,000 people die every year from rail-related deaths, according to a government report last year. Unmanned crossings and lack of barricades, fences and pedestrian bridges are primarily to blame. The report also said that about 6,000 people die annually in the Mumbai transit system alone.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed "deep sorrow and shock at the loss of lives of pilgrims."