Nation & World News

Passenger Train Derails Near Paris, ‘Many Casualties’ Feared

By Mark Memmott on July 12th, 2013

A passenger train with several hundred people on board “has derailed in the southern Paris suburb of Brétigny, with authorities reporting ‘many casualties,’” France 24 reports. Officials are still sorting through what French media are calling their country’s worst rail accident in 25 years.

The BBC said initially that “at least eight people are reported dead. … The intercity train had just left Paris and was heading towards Limoges when it derailed, crashing into a station platform. … Passengers were said to be trapped inside the train.”

Reuters reported that “7 people died and several dozen were injured. … Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday. ‘The death toll is evolving constantly at this point and unfortunately it will probably rise,’ Valls said. ‘At this stage there are seven people dead, several dozen wounded and some of them are serious.’ ”

Le Parisien said in its first report that there were at least four dead and at least 10 injured.

When news such as this breaks, details often change as more information is gathered. We’ll focus on reports from officials and from news outlets with reporters at the scene or in contact with those officials and witnesses.

Update at 5:50 p.m. ET. Secondary Accident Avoided; Speed ‘Normal’

After the derailment, railroad operators acted quickly to stop another train coming from the opposite direction from hitting the scene of the accident, says Guillaume Pepy, president of French national rail operator SNCF, according to Le Figaro.

The newspaper quotes another SNCF official saying the train was traveling at a “normal speed” of 137 kilometers an hour (85 mph), adding that the trains have a limit of 150 kilometers an hour.

The train does not normally stop at the Brétigny-sur-Orge station, reports France 24, which also says a total of six cars derailed in the accident, citing French officials.

France’s President Francois Hollande has visited the site of the crash, where he announced his “solidarity with the families” affected by the derailment Friday evening. He also promised that an investigation will determine the cause.

Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. Came In “At High Speed.”

From France 24:

“The train came in to the station at high speed and it split in two for reasons that have not yet been established,” a police source told AFP. “One half continued to move along, while the other was left on its side by the platform.”

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. Nearly 400 Passengers:

“The SNCF national rail authority says the train was carrying some 385 passengers,” The Associated Press reports.

Update at 1:05 p.m. ET. Death Toll Put At 7:

Both the BBC and Le Parisien are now writing that there were at least 7 deaths.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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