Eight people were seriously hurt in southern France when an express train crashed into a fallen tree uprooted by a massive hailstorm.
The impact of Wednesday’s crash sparked panic, as some passengers feared a jihadi attack was under way, according to one witness.
The regional express was carrying 219 passengers on a service between Nimes and Montpellier when it hit the tree at 140 kilometres (87 miles) per hour, the state rail operator SNCF said.
The accident occurred near the town of Lunel, about 28km south-west of Nimes.
A critically injured individual was airlifted to hospital, according to the head of local rescue services, Christophe Risdorfer. Fifty other passengers suffered minor injuries or shock.
Around 80 rescue workers, backed by helicopters, were deployed to the scene, where “access is very difficult”. The tree was a very tall pine located on private property next to the railway line, the company said.
Despite the impact, the train did not derail and traffic was expected to resume later Wednesday on one of the line’s tracks.