updated 11/1/2006 5:13:30 AM ET 2006-11-01T10:13:30

A passenger train crashed into an auto-rickshaw at an unmanned rail crossing in southern India on Tuesday, killing all 18 people in the rickshaw, a news report said.

The 14 women and four other passengers were heading to a funeral in a village near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu state, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The auto-rickshaw, a three-wheeled, open-sided motor vehicle commonly used to transport passengers, had broken down as it crossed the track, A. Amalraj, the local superintendent of police, was quoted as saying.

The auto-rickshaw was dragged for more than 165 feet before the train stopped.

Rail crossings in India generally have attendants who manually raise and lower the guard gates. Smaller crossings are mostly unmanned. Rural buses and other vehicles are often hit by speeding trains.

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