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Two dead as Alps train derails

Two people are dead after an enormous boulder smashed into a tourist train, derailing it.

The train derailed today outside the French town of Annot, and mayor Jean Ballester told BFM television that "there are unfortunately two dead". France's top security official, Manuel Vals, confirmed two dead and nine injured.

The so-called Train of the Pines runs from the southern French city of Nice to Digne-les-Bain. Ballester said about 30 people were on board when it derailed. The train was still dangling dramatically from the tracks three hours after the accident, the side of one carriage caved in from the boulder.

Ballester said the rock felll from the mountain "with an extraordinary force".

The uninjured among the approximately 30 passengers were evacuated to Annot, a little more than half-way through the train route, Ballester said. Two rescue helicopters were dispatched to the remote area, he said.

The train was still dangling dramatically from the tracks hours after the accident, the crushed front carriage nose-down in the snowy woods.

The train travels along the mountains on track that regularly receives snow and rock falls, but regional transport official Jean-Yves Petit said even in winter it is considered safe.

"The track isn't unusually dangerous," Petit said.

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