Packed Train Derails in Paris Suburb

Train carrying nearly 400 derails at station

 

 
 
 

Greg Keller, Associated Press | | Friday, July 12, 2013

GALLERIES

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Images: Train Crash in Paris

A train carrying hundreds of passengers derailed and crashed into a station outside Paris on Friday on the eve of a major holiday weekend.
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BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE, France (AP) — A train carrying hundreds of passengers derailed and crashed into a station outside Paris on Friday on one of the busiest days of the year for vacation getaways. At least six people were killed and dozens were injured, officials said.

The crash was the deadliest in France in several years. French President Francois Hollande rushed to the scene at the Bretigny-sur-Orge station, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Paris. The Interior Ministry said some 192 people were either injured or being treated for shock — of which nine were in a critical condition.

Four of the seven train cars slid toward the station, crushing part of the metallic roof over the platform. Images on French television and on Twitter showed gnarled metal and shards on the platform, and debris from the crash clogging the stairwell leading beneath the platform.

Some 300 firefighters, 20 medical teams and eight helicopters were deployed to get survivors out of the metal wreckage, according to the Interior Ministry.

The accident came as France is preparing to celebrate its most important national holiday, Bastille Day, on Sunday, and as masses of vacationers are heading out of Paris and other big cities to see family or for summer vacation.

Hollande praised "the mobilization of the emergency services," and reached out in "solidarity with the victims' families." He said an inquiry has been launched to determine the cause of the accident.

"The inquiries will be public so that there is absolutely no doubt on what happened," he added.

Witnesses reported that the train was not moving at an excessive speed, deepening the mystery of what happened.

"I think it's genuinely too early to start to give this or that hypothesis. Now, we're still in the emergency operation," said Interior Ministry spokesman, Pierre-Henry Brandet. "There's some long work ahead from experts that will allow us to know the exact circumstances and the exact causes of this drama."

Ben Khelifa, a 20-year-old accounting apprentice whose commuter train was on the adjacent track, told The Associated Press that the derailed train "was unrecognizable.

"There was nothing but metal scraps," he said. "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.

Another witness, Bazgua El Mehdi, 19, told Le Parisien newspaper: "I heard a loud noise. A cloud of sand covered everything. Then the dust dissipated. I thought it was a freight train, but then we saw the first casualties ... Many passengers on the (train) were crying."

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 train's third and fourth cars initially derailed, which then knocked the other cars off the track, Pepy said. "Some cars simply derailed, others are leaning, others fell over," he said.

The Interior Ministry said six people died in the crash and nine were in critical condition. Earlier, Interior Minister Manuel Valls had said seven people died.

The SNCF said the train was carrying about 385 passengers when it derailed Friday evening at 5:15 p.m. (1515 GMT; 11:15 a.m. EDT) and crashed into the station at Bretigny-sur-Orge.

The train was headed from Paris to Limoges, a 400-kilometer (250-mile) journey, and was about 20 minutes into the scheduled three-hour journey.

A passenger speaking on France's BFM television said the train was going at a normal speed and wasn't meant to stop at Bretigny-sur-Orge. He described children unattended in the chaotic aftermath.

Trains operations have been suspended in Bretigny-sur-Orge for the next three days.
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AP writer Thomas Adamson contributed to this report from Paris.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Images: Train Crash in Paris

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Transporting Victim

Rescue workers transport a victim from a train that derailed in Bretigny sur Orge, south of Paris, Friday July, 12, 2013. AP Photo/Jacques Brinon


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Transporting Victim

Rescue workers transport a victim from a train that derailed in Bretigny sur Orge, south of Paris, Friday July, 12, 2013. AP Photo/Jacques Brinon


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People Evacuated

People are evacuated after a train derailed in Bretigny sur Orge, south of Paris, Friday July, 12, 2013. A packed passenger train skidded off its rails after leaving Paris on Friday, leaving at least six people dead and dozens injured as train cars slammed into each other and overturned, authorities said. AP Photo/Jacques Brinon


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Amid Chaos

A woman holds a child amidst a rail worker and a Red Cross worker on the site of a train accident at Bretigny-sur-Orge train station Friday, July 12, 2013 near Paris. AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool


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Train Wreck

A view of the Bretigny sur Orge train station, south of Paris, after a train derailed Friday July, 12, 2013. A packed passenger train skidded off its rails after leaving Paris on Friday, leaving at least six dead and nine critically injured. AP Photo


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Alternative Transportation

Passengers are guided to a bus at the train station where a train derailed in Bretigny sur Orge, south of Paris, Friday July, 12, 2013. All trains from a major Paris train station were suspended after the accident. AP Photo/Michel Euler


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Consoling Victims

French President Francois Hollande, right, speaks with victims at the site of a train accident in the railway station of Bretigny-sur-Orge, Friday, July 12, 2013 near Paris. AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool


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Talking Heads

French president Francois Hollande, left, speaks with French Junior Minister for Transports and Maritime Economy Frederic Cuvillier, second right, and France's national rail company SNCF head, Guillaume Pepy, second left, at the site of a train accident in the railway station of Bretigny-sur-Orge, Friday, July 12, 2013 near Paris. AP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool



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