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Train Fire in France Kills 12 and Injures 10

November 06, 2002|From Times Wire Services

NANCY, France — Twelve people died in a fire on an overnight express train near the northeastern French city of Nancy today, local officials said.

The victims apparently died from inhaling smoke, which Nancy railway staff noticed as the train rumbled through on its way from Paris. It was headed to Vienna via Strasbourg.

About 10 people were injured in the fire, which occurred about 2:15 a.m. in the two front cars of the train. About 150 people were on board.

The injured were taken to a university hospital in Nancy. Regional official Jean-Francois Cordet said Americans, as well as French, British and German nationals, were among those hurt.

"The station staff noticed one of the cars had smoke in it," one local official told France Info radio. The train was stopped just outside the Nancy station and rescue workers rushed to it.

"They realized on opening the doors that there was a fire and a certain number of people were already dead," he said.

Local police said the fatalities consisted of six men, five women and a child. The victims, apparently foreigners, were traveling in two German railways sleeper cars, and officials said they appeared to have died in their sleep.

Authorities tentatively attributed the cause to a heating system malfunction.

Nancy city officials opened a local gymnasium to receive the rest of the passengers from the train while they waited for other transport.

Fatal train accidents are extremely rare in France, whose high-speed rail network is a model for other countries.

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