A crowded commuter train derailed near Paris and left “many casualties” with other passengers possibly trapped inside just as France began its more important public holiday weekend on Friday afternoon.
Authorities said as many as six people are dead, with reports of some being electrocuted and others crushed. There are nine in critical condition, the Associated Press said.
“The train came in to the station at high speed, and it split in two for reasons that have not yet been established,” police told Agence France-Presse.
“One half continued to move along, while the other was left on its side by the platform.”
The southbound train crashed at Bretigny-sur-Orge shortly after leaving the French capital, BBC said.
It was headed to Limoges, but derailed and crashed into a station platform just as rush hour was beginning.
France is also beginning Bastille Day long weekend; French President Francois Hollande canceled plans elsewhere to tour the scene, the AP said, saying all of France would “think of the families” that are suffering.
“The train was unrecognizable. There was nothing but metal scraps,” student Ben Khelifa told the AP.
Citing SNCF train authority, the AP called it a “packed passenger train,” with as many as 385 people inside when it crashed.
Eight were reported dead soon after the crash, but the death toll is in “constant evolution,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls told the AP.
The Interior Ministry also declared a “code red,” AFP said, meaning authorities expect “many people are victims.”
An Instagram user named Tgorguet posted photos showing some cars buckled and others on their sides as onlookers watched from platforms.
It appeared some passengers were climbing on top of the cars, either searching for survivors or looking for escape routes themselves.