Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

French railway SNCF in train 'explosion' blunder

Grab of erroneous SNCF web announcement
The SNCF said it was practising emergency procedures

By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris

The French railway operator, SNCF, has mistakenly put a dramatic statement on its website saying more than 100 people had died in a train explosion.

The false announcement, of an explosion in Macon in the Burgundy region, was part of a training exercise.

It was only when journalists began flooding the railway operator's phone lines that the company realised there had been an enormous error.

A real SNCF statement later firmly said that the accident had never happened.

The message, which appeared on the SNCF website shortly after 1100 (1000 GMT), stated that following an explosion on a high-speed TGV train on the Paris to Dijon line, 102 people had been confirmed dead, while 380 people had been injured.

During an in-house training exercise in which staff were asked to respond to a massive rail accident, a staff member had accidentally posted details of the pretend scenario on the official website.

In a statement about the misunderstanding, SNCF explained that it was obliged to practise its emergency procedures for the safety of its passengers.

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