iconimg Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Agence France-Presse
Bretigny-sur-orge(France), July 13, 2013
At least six people were killed and many injured after a speeding train derailed and hit the platform at a station just south of Paris, in France's worst rail accident in 25 years. Witnesses said the site of the crash resembled "a war zone", with one describing walking over a decapitated body to exit a carriage that had been thrown on its side.

Rescuers were searching late yesterday for passengers who may still be trapped inside overturned carriages.

The train, a regional service heading from Paris to the west-central city of Limoges yesterday, hurled off the line as it passed at high speed through the station at Bretigny-sur-Orge, about 25 kilometres south of Paris.

The interior ministry said in an updated toll that at least six people had been killed, nine seriously injured and taken to hospital by helicopter and 17 lightly injured.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls had earlier spoken of seven dead and "dozens injured," warning that the death toll was likely to rise.

Some 300 firefighters, 20 paramedic teams and eight helicopters were deployed to the area. All Paris region hospitals were put on alert to deal with the injured.

In total, 192 people were treated by emergency services, officials said.

The head of the SNCF national railway, Guillaume 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 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.

"We don't yet know the reasons for this derailment," Pepy said, adding that investigations would be carried out by the rail service, judicial authorities and France's BEA safety agency.

After travelling to the scene and meeting with officials, President Francois Hollande confirmed that three investigations had been launched "to determine what happened at this station".

"We should avoid unnecessary speculation, what happened will eventually be known and the proper conclusions will be drawn," Hollande said.

Passenger Marc Cheutin, 57, said he had to "step over a decapitated person" after the accident to exit the carriage he had been travelling in.