A train crash in southern France has left eight people seriously injured – including one in a critical condition – and around 50 slightly hurt or suffering from shock.
The emergency services said the train hit a tree that had fallen across the track brought down by a violent storm with torrential hailstones.
The critically injured person – who witnesses said had been thrown from the train – was evacuated to hospital by helicopter. He is a man in his thirties according to Olivier Jacob, an official with the local prefecture.
The rail operator SNCF said the accident happened between Nimes and Montpellier at about 15.45 CET. It involved a local (TER) train carrying 250 passengers and travelling at 140 kilometres an hour (87 miles an hour).
The fallen tree also damaged the electric power cables over the tracks, halting all services on that line in both directions. The train itself was not derailed, but suffered severe damage to the front of the leading motorised carriage.
SNCF said rescuers had difficulty getting access to the crash scene.
Passengers were taken to the nearby town of Saint-Aunès, which is east of Montpellier, and housed in a community centre until alternative transport could be arranged.
Photo prise en direct de la voie pic.twitter.com/Vj44ZLwn07— Arrow (@aurore_sch) August 17, 2016