updated 1/20/2009 10:50:35 AM ET 2009-01-20T15:50:35

Three people riding on top of a speeding train at night in northern India were killed and 50 others were injured when tree branches knocked them off, police said Tuesday.

The victims were among nearly 500 people on the train's roof Monday night after finding no room inside the overcrowded coaches in Uttar Pradesh state, said police spokesman Surendra Srivastava on Tuesday.

Most of the victims suffered head injuries and broken limbs, said police official Dinesh Chandra Mishra.

"It was pitch dark and I was sitting on my haunches on the rooftop of the train when suddenly something hit me on my face," injured passenger Suresh Kumar told the television news channel Sahara Times. "Before I could realize what had happened I tumbled down the roof."

Traveling on the roof of overcrowded train coaches is common in rural India and often leads to accidents and deaths.

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