Five Killed in Train Collision in Northeastern France

A passenger train collided with an oncoming freight train in northeastern France Wednesday, killing at least five people, local officials and the French national rail operator said.

Nine people were trapped in the wreckage, officials in the Lorraine region said.

The impact of the crash pushed one of the passenger train's cars onto the top of another, compressing it. Rescue teams stood atop the wreckage or near the crumpled car, seeking to retrieve survivors and those injured inside.

Regional officials and the SNCF originally had said at least 10 people were believed killed but later revised their figures to five, including the two train drivers.

The passenger train was traveling from Luxembourg to the French city of Nancy, said Philippe Mirville, a spokesman for French rail operator SNCF.

The line the passenger train was on was being repaired, so it switched onto a second track, hitting the oncoming freight train at Zoufftgen, about 12 miles south of Luxembourg, just before noon, Mirville said.

SNCF Director-General Guillaume Pepy said the 22-car freight train had a green light at the time of the crash, and said there were no signs of speeding.

President Jacques Chirac ordered the government to "oversee the mobilization of all rescue services and quickly bring to light the circumstances of this dramatic accident," his office said.

More than 100 rescue workers responded to the crash, local fire chief Samuel Gesret told France-2 television.