Boulder smashes French Alps tourist train; 2 dead

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Boulder smashes French Alps tourist train; 2 dead
Aerial photo of derailed train in the French Alps on February 8, 2014. Exclusive photo Nice-Matin, shot by Gregory LeClerc.
View of the derailed train after it was smashed by a boulder, outside the French town of Annot, southeastern France, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. An enormous boulder hurtled off a mountain and smashed into a tourist train in the French Alps on Saturday, derailing it on the mountainside and killing two passengers, officials said. Nine people were injured. The force of the boulder caved in the side of the train, which takes a leisurely three hours to travel about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Nice to Dignes-les-Bains. (AP photo)
View of the derailed train after it was smashed by a boulder, outside the French town of Annot, southeastern France, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. An enormous boulder hurtled off a mountain and smashed into a tourist train in the French Alps on Saturday, derailing it on the mountainside and killing two passengers, officials said. Nine people were injured. The force of the boulder caved in the side of the train, which takes a leisurely three hours to travel about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Nice to Dignes-les-Bains. (AP photo)
View of the derailed train after it was smashed by a boulder, outside the French town of Annot, southeastern France, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. An enormous boulder hurtled off a mountain and smashed into a tourist train in the French Alps on Saturday, derailing it on the mountainside and killing two passengers, officials said. Nine people were injured. The force of the boulder caved in the side of the train, which takes a leisurely three hours to travel about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Nice to Dignes-les-Bains. (AP photo)
A French rescue worker looks at the wreckage of a passenger train hit by a massive falling boulder near Digne-les-Bains, in the French Alps, on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
French rescue workers look at the wreckage of a passenger train hit by a massive falling boulder near Digne-les-Bains, in the French Alps, on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
A French rescue worker looks at the passenger train hit by a massive falling boulder near Digne-les-Bains, in the French Alps on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the passenger train hit by a massive falling boulder near Digne-les-Bains, in the French Alps on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the massive boulder which hit a passenger train near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
French gendarmes stand near the wreckage of a passenger train near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps after it derailed on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a massive falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured person arrives at the hospital of Nice, southern France, after a train derailed near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a massive falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on Saturday, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Medics take care of an injured person at the hospital of Nice, southern France, after a train derailed near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a massive falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on Saturday, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo taken on February 8, 2014 shows the wreckage of a passenger train near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps after it derailed. Two women were killed when a massive falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
Medics take care of an injured person at the hospital of Nice, southern France, after a train derailed near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a massive falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on Saturday, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
A gendarme looks at the wreckage of a passenger train near Digne-les-Bains in the French Alps after it derailed on February 8, 2014. Two women were killed when a massive falling boulder hit a passing train in the French Alps on February 8, leaving one of its carriages dangling precariously off a steep, snow-covered embankment. Eight people were injured in the accident which took place as the train travelled from the coastal city of Nice to the popular tourist town of Digne-les-Bains along a narrow, winding, and sometimes breathtakingly steep track. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) -- An enormous boulder hurtled off a mountain and smashed into a tourist train in the French Alps on Saturday, derailing it on the mountainside and killing two passengers, officials said. Nine people were injured.

The force of the boulder caved in the side of the train, which takes a leisurely three hours to travel about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Nice to Dignes-les-Bains.

"A rock the size of an automobile came off the mountainside and slammed into the first car of the train," Jean Ballester, mayor of nearby Annot, told BFM television. "There are unfortunately two dead."

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.

France's top security official, Manuel Vals, confirmed two dead and nine injured.

The train was still dangling dramatically from the tracks hours after the accident, the crushed front car 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 told BFM.

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