Authorities said Tuesday brake failure sent a runaway train hurtling into another train at a main station, killing 57 people in the worst train wreck in Paris history.
Rescue teams in the Gare de Lyon worked all night and reached the bottom of tons of wreckage at midday after a locomotive hauled apart the cars that took the brunt of the collision.In a crushed metal railway carriage rescue workers found the last bodies, raising the death count to 55, a Fire Department spokesman said, but two people died in hospitals, raising the number to 57, health officials said.
Authorities said that of 44 injured in the crash, 30 remained hospitalized Tuesday. Thirteen were in grave condition.
Authorities said the names and nationalities of the vic-tims were not yet being made public.
The National Assembly observed a minute of silence honoring the dead in the train collision and Sunday's air crash.
It was France's worst rail accident in 17 years.
Fire Department spokesman Commander Raoul Viger said many of those brought out alive suffered from compression - "the same compression one could experience in an earthquake, beneath blocks of concrete."
He said humans could live for hours under compression but toxins build up in the body and "the problem is to survive after."
The rail accident, the worst in Paris's history, occurred during the evening rush hour Monday. A commuter train arriving from the southeast suburbs slammed into another train stopped at a platform in the huge underground terminal.
In a news conference at the headquarters of the National Railway Company, or SNCF, which operated the commuter trains, senior officials gave the first tentative account of how it happened.
SNCF President Philippe Rouvillois said the brakes on the inbound train failed after it made an unscheduled stop at the Vert-de-Maisons station five miles outside Paris. Someone - most likely a prankster - had pulled an emergency brake, he said.
A half-hour later the train set off again with the driver apparently unaware the brakes were no longer working. One mile from the terminal, driver Daniel Saulin, 43, realized something had gone wrong with the brakes and warned his passengers to move to the rear cars.