BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE, France — A train carrying hundreds of passengers derailed and crashed Friday into a station outside Paris on one of the busiest days of the year for vacation getaways. At least six people were killed and dozens were injured, officials said.
French President Francois Hollande rushed to the scene at the Bretigny-sur-Orge station, 12 miles south of Paris. The Interior Ministry said some 192 people were injured or being treated for shock. Nine people were in a critical condition.
Images on French television and on Twitter showed gnarled metal and shards on the station 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 find the cause of the accident.
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.”
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.”