The scene of a rail accident in the Moroccan town of Bouknadel, between the capital Rabat and the port city of Kenitra to its north. Image Credit: AFP

Rabat: A passenger train derailed Tuesday near the Moroccan capital Rabat killing at least seven people and injuring over 80 others, officials said.

"Regrettably, seven people died," regional health director Abdelmoula Boulamizat told the official MAP news agency.

National railway company boss Mohammad Rabie Khlie earlier gave a death toll of six, including the driver and his assistant, and said 86 people were injured.

"The derailment has killed six people according to the latest count and left 86 injured in serious condition," Mohammad Rabie Khlie, head of the kingdom's national railway company ONCF, he told reporters at the scene.

"An investigation has been opened to determine the causes of the accident," said Khlie.

Tangled in the wreckage were doors and seats that had been gouged out of place, while passengers' belongings and glass from broken windows littered the accident site.

Emergency workers rushed people to hospitals in Rabat, Sale and Kenitra while rescue teams searched for more victims with the help of cadaver dogs. Military personnel guarded the site as railway workers and authorities started to investigate why the train jumped its tracks.

Local residents were the first to reach the scene in the town of Sidi Bouknadel, helping injured or trapped survivors out of mangled train cars and covering the bodies of the dead. They reported the accident happened at around 9:30 a.m.

"We heard a gigantic explosion. The earth shook and the sound was unbearable," Mourad El Kbiri, who owns a cafe near where the train derailed, told The Associated Press. "I rushed to see what happened. It was horrific. Disfigured bodies all over the place, blood and body pieces."

The Center for Blood Immunization declared a state of emergency and dispatched blood collection vehicles to Rabat, Kenitra, Sale and Sidi Bouknadel to receive donors.

The general director of state-owned railway company ONCF, Mohamed Rabie Khlie, and Morocco's interior and transport ministers visited the accident site briefly but refused to comment.

King Mohammad VI said he would pay the burial costs of the victims and for the treatment of the injured, who were taken to Rabat's military hospital, according to a royal cabinet statement.