13 Passengers Badly Injured When French Train Hits Fallen Tree

PARIS (Reuters) -
French police and investigators at the scene of the accident in Saint-Aunes, France, east of Montpellier, on Wednesday. (France Bleu Herault/Aubert Naturel/Handout via Reuters)
French police and investigators at the scene of the accident in Saint-Aunes, France, east of Montpellier, on Wednesday. (France Bleu Herault/Aubert Naturel/Handout via Reuters)

Thirteen people were seriously injured when an intercity train traveling 85 mph hit a fallen tree on tracks near the southern French city of Montpellier on Wednesday, emergency services said.

“One passenger is in critical condition and a dozen are badly hurt,” said a paramedic spokesman who gave his name as Captain Mercier, adding that another 50 people were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Firemen evacuate an injured passenger. (France Bleu Herault/Aubert Naturel/Handout via Reuters)
Firemen evacuate an injured passenger. (France Bleu Herault/Aubert Naturel/Handout via Reuters)

The train was traveling at the usual speed for the stretch of track near the village of Saint-Aunes, a spokesman for state rail company SNCF said.

The tree fell across both tracks during a heavy hail storm. Photos on social media showed the crumpled front of the train as well as the inside of a carriage strewn with debris. Reuters could not independently verify the images.

There were about 200 passengers aboard the train when the accident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT).