Patna, India -

A speeding truck driver on Tuesday ran over and killed at least 12 Hindu pilgrims who were sleeping on the side of a busy road in north-eastern India, police said.

Four women were among the victims. Eighteen others were injured in the pre-dawn accident on a national highway in the Aurangabad district of Bihar state.

Upendra Kumar Sharma, superintendent of police for Aurangabad, said more than 50 pilgrims were resting for the night after visiting a temple in neighbouring Jharkhand state when the lorry driver lost control of his vehicle.

“The pilgrims had parked their bus and were sleeping in the open nearby when the speeding vehicle crushed them to death,” he told AFP.

India has one the world's worst road safety records, with figures showing around 140 000 people are killed each year. - Sapa-AFP