Seventy people were killed and nearly 420 injured early on Monday when a passenger train from Beijing careered off the rails and slammed into another train in eastern China, state media reported.
The train was travelling to Qingdao — the coastal city that will host the Olympic sailing competition in August — when it derailed, causing the other train to leave the tracks too.
The accident, the worst in China in more than a decade, took place in the city of Zibo in Shandong province, state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Earlier, state TV reported 66 killed in the accident. Xinhua said 57 died immediately in the pre-dawn accident, while three others died in hospitals later.
Out of the injured, four were French nationals, Xinhua said, without identifying the four.
Witnesses said many passengers were able to climb out of the wrecked train carriages shortly afterwards, some wrapped up in bed sheets from the sleeper cars to guard against the early morning chill.
“I think dozens were injured or killed,” a doctor told Xinhua earlier.
“We have received around 40 injured passengers but nobody died,” a nurse at one of Zibo’s hospitals said.
“Some of them are seriously injured, some slightly injured. Their injuries are external.”
Nurses at the accident and emergency departments of two other hospitals in the area said they were also counting the injured but that no one had died, and there were no critical injuries. The accident occurred at 4.43am (2043 GMT Sunday), Xinhua said, quoting a spokesman from the Shandong provincial government.
The other train was on its way to Xuzhou in the eastern Jiangsu province, from Shandong’s Yantai. About 10 carriages crashed into a ditch after the train derailed, a witness told Xinhua.
A photo of the crash, posted on a popular Internet news web portal, showed people wrapped in white blankets sitting by the train wreckage.
Railway minister Liu Zhijun arrived at the scene of to oversee rescue efforts, Xinhua said, where he demanded an investigation to prevent this type of incident happening again. The accident disrupted traffic on a
major rail route linking Jinan, the capital of Shandong, to Qingdao.