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Train Crash Leaves Nine Dead

November 7, 1988

EPERNAY, France (AP) _ A passenger train traveling from Luxembourg to Paris hit a maintenance car on a service track Monday and derailed in a village station in northeastern France, killing nine railroad employees.

No passengers were killed. Twelve passengers were injured along with the driver of the train, but none seriously.

The accident occurred on a track at Ay, a village near Epernay, 85 miles east of Paris.

The maintenance car was on the service track, and it was not immediately clear why the passenger train was directed that way, where railway employees were working, rather than on the main line through the station.

″There were bodies everywhere,″ said Francoise Dequeninque, owner of a cafe next to the station. ″The nine workers working on the track were all killed.″

Jacques Fournier, president of the national railway, the Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais, said the train was traveling at 73 mph when it struck the maintenance car. The locomotive and nine of 11 passenger cars left the rails.

Fournier said a rarely used switch apparently had been thrown to permit maintenance work on the track.

Transport Minister Michel Delebarre, who visited some of the injured at a local hospital, said an investigation would be launched.

It was the third fatal train crash this year in France. On June 27, an incoming train crashed into a stationary train at the Gare de Lyon station in Paris, killing 56 people. On Aug. 6, one person died when a train crashed into a barrier at the Gare de l’Est in Paris.

Premier Michel Rocard said in a statement that he shared the sorrow of the victims’ families and was determined to take steps to increase safety on the nation’s railways.

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