Six die in rail disaster

Six people were believed dead and dozens injured after a packed passenger train derailed outside Paris, French authorities said.

France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters that the casualty toll is “in constant evolution”, suggesting the total could rise.

The SNCF national rail authority says the train was carrying some 385 passengers when it derailed at 5.15pm and crashed into the station at Bretigny-sur-Orge, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Paris.

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The train was heading for Limoges. SNCF official Jean-Paul Boulet says four carriages piled up after the train derailed. He could not confirm reports that passengers were still trapped inside. A passenger speaking on France’s BFM television said the train was going at a normal speed and was not meant to stop at Bretigny-sur-Orge.

Two train cars, number three and four, initially derailed, then knocked the other cars off the track, SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy said. “Some cars simply derailed, others are leaning, others fell over,” he said.

All trains from Paris’ Gare d’Austerlitz were suspended after the accident.

The accident comes as France is preparing to celebrate its most important national holiday, Bastille Day, tomorrow. Huge numbers of holidaymakers are heading out of Paris and other big cities to see family or on summer holidays.