Mechanical error may have caused French crash

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BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE, France — An unattached rail joint may have caused a train derailment in France during a busy holiday weekend that left six dead, rail officials said Saturday. Nearly 200 people were injured and nine remained in critical condition.

The packed train, which left Paris on Friday evening with 385 passengers, jumped the track about 20 minutes into a scheduled three-hour journey as it traveled through Bretigny-sur-Orge station.

It crashed into the platform and some cars tipped over.

Human error has already been ruled out, according to Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier, and attention has focused instead on the switching system, which guides trains from one track to another.

Investigators found that a piece of metal in one joint in the switch linking two rails had disconnected from its normal position, Pierre Izard, an official with the national rail company, SNCF, told reporters.

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