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AT LEAST seven people have been killed and dozens injured after a speeding train split in two and derailed at a station in the southern suburbs of Paris.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls gave a toll of six dead and said there were “dozens of injured” following the accident at the Bretigny-sur-Orge station involving a train heading from Paris to the west-central city of Limoges. He revised the figure from an earlier toll of seven.
Mr Valls also said nine people have been gravely injured. Many passengers were believed to be trapped inside wrecked carriages that were lying on their sides after the accident. “The toll at this stage is constantly evolving and will be heavier,” Mr Valls told reporters in Nimes.
Some 300 firefighters, 20 medical teams and eight helicopters were deployed to get the hundreds of survivors out of the wreck, according to the Interior Ministry. Around 190 people were being treated for injuries or shock.
Officials didn’t comment on reports that some passengers may still be trapped on the train. It was unclear whether all the casualties were inside the train, or whether some had been on the platform, or how fast the train was traveling. The head of the SNCF rail authority, Guillaume Pepy, called it a “catastrophe.”
The local prefect’s office said at least six people had died and 12 injured, including nine in a serious condition.
Mr Pepy told reporters at the scene that six carriages had derailed during the accident. The train’s third and fourth carriages derailed first and the others followed, he said.
A clearly emotional Mr Pepy expressed the rail company’s “solidarity with the victims and their families”.
“Rail catastrophes are something that upset everyone and all of those who are committed to our national rail service,” he said.
Passenger Marc Cheutin, 57, said he had to “step over a decapitated person” to exit the carriage he had been travelling in.
“Shortly after departure, just as I was getting into my book, we felt a first shock that shook the carriage I was in…. Then there was a second shock and the carriage lifted up, then a third and a fourth and the carriage went over on its side,” he said.
“The train was unrecognisable. There was nothing but metal scraps,” 20-year-old accounting apprentice Ben Khelifa told The Associated Press. His commuter train was on the adjacent track. “The train just collapsed, just like that, on its side… There was blood.”
He added that he was one of a number of passengers in the adjacent train that went to help pull trapped survivors out of the wreckage.
“People were screaming, people were asking where their children were,” he said. …