Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Officials describe an "apocalyptic" scene in Brétigny-sur-Orge, just 12 miles south of the city.
A commuter train derailed in the Paris suburb of Brétigny-sur-Orge earlier today, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more. The crowded train left Paris during the Friday evening rush hour, and was headed for Limoges. It derailed at the Brétigny-sur-Orge station, 12 miles south of the city.
Officials say 385 passengers were on board when the train derailed. Brétigny's mayor Bernard Decaux described the scenes as "apocalyptic" to the French newspaper Le Parisien. Interior minister Manuel Valls told reporters that "the death toll is evolving constantly at this point and unfortunately it will probably rise."
According to France24, a passenger told a French television station that the train was going "at a normal speed and was not meant to stop at Brétigny-sur-Orge." Two train cars initially derailed, with the remainder either leaning off the rails or falling over.
Twitter user @belkiess was on the platform, taking some of the earliest photographs on scene:
And here are some images from Reuters:
French President Francois Hollande comforts victims during a visit to the site of the intercity train accident at the Bretigny-sur-Orge. (REUTERS/Kenzo Tribouillard)
The accident comes as the country preps for start their summer vacation travels for Bastille Day weekend, France's biggest holiday.