Eight passengers badly hurt as French train hits fallen tree

August 17, 2016 11:16 AM EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - Eight people were badly injured when an intercity train traveling at 140 km per hour (85 mph) hit a fallen tree near the southern French city of Montpellier on Wednesday, according to SNCF, the state rail company.

The train was traveling at the usual speed for the stretch of track near the village of Saint-Aunes, a SNCF spokesman said.

"Emergency services took care of the hurt. One person in a critical condition was evacuated by helicopter," a statement by the local authority said.

Paramedics treated 50 other passengers at the scene for minor injuries and shock, said a local emergency services spokesman who earlier put the toll of badly hurt at 13.

The tree fell across the tracks after a heavy hail storm. Photos on social media showed the crumpled front of the train as well as the inside of a carriage strewn with debris. Reuters could not independently verify the images.

About 200 passengers were aboard the train when the accident occurred around 3:45 p.m. (1345 GMT).

(Reporting by Simon Carraud; writing by Richard Lough; editing by Michel Rose and Larry King)

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