A high-speed TGV train running between Strasbourg in eastern France and Paris derailed after a landslide, injuring 22 people including one seriously, local officials said.
Police and emergency services rushed to the scene of the accident, which happened near Ingenheim in the Bas-Rhin area.
The driver, who was seriously injured, managed to slam on the emergency brakes and bring the train to a halt.
“The initial assessment is that there is one injured person who is an extremely urgent case and has been evacuated by a Dragon 67 helicopter to Strasbourg-Hautepierre hospital, and 21 people who are being treated as relatively urgent cases,” its statement said.
It was the first derailment in nearly 40 years of commercial operation of France’s TGV intercity high-speed service.
State rail company SNCF said the train driver was evacuated by helicopter, and a major landslide had caused the accident.
The train, carrying 300 passengers, was travelling from Colmar in eastern France to the capital and was racing along at 270 kilometres per hour when it jumped the tracks.
The derailment opened a gash on the pointed nose of the sleek train, which stayed upright. Its side was scratched and some windows were cracked.
“We are all a bit shaken,” passenger Alexandre Sergeant told BFM television.
An investigation will determine whether the train struck an earth bank that collapsed close to the track.
Other trains were being re-routed and there were delays but no cancellations. SNCF was using buses to evacuate the passengers onboard the stranded TGV.
In 2015, a TGV derailed on the Paris-Strasbourg line during a test run prior to the line’s entry into service, killing 11 people.
That crash dealt a setback to the rollout of high-speed rail lines that are a symbol of French pride and intended to help support economic growth beyond the capital.