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Passenger train derails near Paris, fatalities

Multiple casualties have been reported after a passenger train derailed south of Paris, with at least six dead. An emergency operation has been launched, the French Interior Ministry announced.

The French Interior Ministry lowered the death toll from the train crash on Friday evening to six, with nine people gravely inured.

News network BFM TV and the French daily newspaper Le Parisien had initially reported that eight people had been killed in the incident, with the ministry saying that seven had died.

French media said that the "Intercite" train - on its way from Paris to the central city of Limoges - had become derailed at Bretigny-sur-Orge, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Paris.

Train packed

The French train operator SNCF announced that 385 passengers had been aboard the train when it came off the tracks at about 5:15 p.m. local time (1515 GMT).

The AFP news agency reported that the Interior Ministry had confirmed it had initiated an emergency operation.

The ministry was quoted as saying that the train approached the railway station at high speed, before being separated into two parts for an unknown reason.

A passenger who had been aboard told BFM TV that there had been a series of shocks and that the train had filled with smoke. "We were violently shaken. We were clinging to our seats. It must have lasted 15 seconds," said the passenger.

A photo released on Twitter showed a train carriage completely off its rails and smashed against the platform.

The accident occurred as many in France were departing at the start of their summer holidays.

rc/ipj (AFP, Reuters)