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Two dead and nine injured after boulder derails train in French Alps

Track was considered safe by officials

Two passengers on a tourist train in the French Alps have died after a boulder “the size of a car” smashed into it, forcing it off the tracks.

Nine people were injured in the accident on Saturday during the train’s 93 mile journey from Nice to Dignes-les-Bains.

The force of the impact caved in the side of the first carriage and caused it to derail.

"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.

Around 30 passengers were on board and those not injured were evacuated to Annot, a little over half way along the route, Mr Ballester said.

Two rescue helicopters were dispatched to the remote area.

Stephane Kellenberger, a local prosecutor, told AFP one victim was a Russian citizen.

The other victim came from the Alps region, he said.

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 sees snow and rock falls, but regional transport official Jean-Yves Petit said even in winter it is considered safe.

Additional reporting by AP