France train crash kills 6, injures dozens

An intercity train carrying hundreds of passengers has derailed in France while travelling from Paris to Limoges, south of the French capital.

Packed SNCF train was travelling from Paris to Limoges

A train carrying hundreds of passengers derailed and crashed into a station outside Paris on Friday. At least six people were killed and dozens were injured, including nine in critical condition, the Interior Ministry said.

The crash at Bretigny-sur-Orge station, about 20 kilometres south of Paris, is the deadliest in France in years. French President Francois Hollande abandoned his plans in the capital in order to visit the scene.

The train was transporting passengers from Paris to Limoges.

Some 300 firefighters, 20 medical teams and eight helicopters were deployed to get the hundreds of survivors out of the wreck, according to the Interior Ministry. Around 190 people were being treated for injuries or shock. 

"The train was unrecognizable. There was nothing but metal scraps," 20-year-old Ben Khelifa told The Associated Press. His commuter train was on the adjacent track.

"The train just collapsed, just like that, on its side... There was blood." 

Children, parents separated

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.

Earlier, the French newspaper Le Parisien reported eight fatalities and said many of the wounded were still stuck on the train.

Jean-Paul Boulet, spokesman for SNCF, the country's state-owned railway company, said the train was carrying some 350 passengers when it derailed at 5:15 p.m. local time.

After leaving the tracks, the train crashed into the station at Bretigny-sur-Orge.

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.

He described children unattended in the chaotic aftermath, and swarms of emergency workers at the scene.

Two train cars, numbers 3 and 4, 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's Gare d'Austerlitz were suspended after the accident.

With files from The Associated Press