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Mechanical Error May Have Caused French Crash

By BASTIEN INZAURRALDE and ELAINE GANLEY

BRETIGNY-SUR-ORGE, France (AP) â¿¿ A powerful crane on Saturday lifted the carcass of the most damaged of four train cars that derailed, killing six people and injuring nearly 200 south of Paris in what investigators believe may have been a case of equipment failure on a line some claim is neglected.

Authorities had feared more victims would be found under the wreckage but none was discovered, said the governor of the Essonne region, Michel Fuzeau.

"We are now assured that there are no more victims," Fuzeau said after the start of the delicate operation by the 700-ton crane. The machine is to remove the cars damaged from the tracks at the small Bretigny-Sur-Orge station. On Friday, four cars slid off the tracks there as the train sped through town, which was not a stop on its journey to central France.

Human error has been ruled out by France's transport minister and the focus of the investigation is on a detached piece of metal in a switching joint on the tracks. The national rail company, SNCF, has already taken blame for Friday evening's crash, which occurred at the start of a busy holiday weekend.

"The SNCF considers itself responsible," rail company chief Guillaume Pepy said. "It is responsible for the lives of its clients."

The packed train, carrying around 385 passengers, was traveling below the speed limit at 137 kph (85 mph) when it derailed, skidded and slammed into the station platform in the small town outside the capital. It was 20 minutes into a scheduled three-hour trip to Limoges in central France.

The crane, sent from northern France, towered over the small buildings that surround the railway station. A smaller crane initially removed benches, street lamps and other urban furnishings to make place for the larger crane outside the station.

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