At least four people have been killed and about 30 injured after a train derailed in the southeastern German state of Bavaria.
The train, which was carrying several students, was on its way to Munich when three trains derailed near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Investigators say they are working to determine what caused the accident.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed grief over the incident and said his sympathies were with the victims’ families.
An official from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen local authority initially suggested that some 60 people were injured. Still, German Federal Police spokesman Stefan Sonntag said the figure referred to the number of passengers on the train.
On Friday, the accident happened at around 13:15 local time (11:15 GMT) when the train left Garmisch-Partenkirchen for Munich.
Mr Sontag told reporters that 15 of the injured were severely at a local hospital. Officials also confirmed that several children were among the wounded.
It is unclear what caused the accident, which resulted in a wide train diversion. Still, Bavaria’s Minister of Transport, Christian Bernreiter, told regional broadcaster BR that the accident may have resulted from a technical fault.
“There were no third parties involved here, so one must assume that some technical reason – either on the vehicle or the rail – was the cause,” he said.
Emergency personnel had to use stairs to climb down through windows to reach survivors trapped in parked vehicles, and officials said people were “pulled through windows” to escape the debris.
Six helicopters, including three melee helicopters from the Austrian territory of Tyrol, were dispatched to the scene to aid in the rescue efforts.
The region has begun preparations to host the G7 summit of world leaders later this month and has included several police and soldiers deployed to the area as part of the rescue operation.
An American soldier at a nearby airport was driving when the train derailed. He told local media that the accident was “very terrible – suddenly the train overturned”.
The accident occurred when Germany launched a new discounted train ticket. Mr Sonntag said the regional train was “very crowded and many people were using it, so the number of injured was high”.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn says a section of the route between Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen has been closed, and traffic has been diverted.
Germany’s deadliest train accident occurred in 1998 when a high-speed train derailed in Eischeid, Lower Saxony, killing 101 people.
In February, the country’s most recent fatal accident occurred when two trains collided near Munich, killing one person and injuring 14 others.
In a separate development, an Italian high-speed train carriage travelling from Turin to Rome derailed while approaching the capital.
Local emergency officials say no one was injured in the incident, which saw the rear of the train derail near the Serenissima tunnel in Rome.