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6 killed in train crash south of Paris

BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE, France -- A train carrying hundreds of passengers derailed and crashed into a station outside Paris on Friday on the eve of a major holiday weekend. At least six people were killed and dozens were injured, including nine in critical condition, the Interior Ministry said.

The crash at the Bretigny-sur-Orge station was the deadliest in France in years, and President Francois Hollande abandoned plans in the capital to visit the scene.

Some cars slid toward the station, crushing part of the metallic roof over the platform. Images from the scene on French television showed gnarled metal and shards on the platform, and debris from the crash clogging the stairwell leading beneath the platform.

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

Another witness, Bazgua El Mehdi, 19, told Le Parisien newspaper, "I heard a loud noise. A cloud of sand covered everything, then the dust dissipated. I thought it was a freight train, but then we saw the first casualties."

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 cause of the crash was under investigation.

The rail authority said the train was carrying about 385 passengers when it derailed Friday evening at 5:15 p.m. and crashed into the station, about 12 miles south of Paris. The train was headed from Paris to Limoges and was about 20 minutes into the trip.

The accident came as France is preparing to celebrate Bastille Day on Sunday.

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