A passenger and a cargo train crashed head-on near Hordorf village, close to Saxony-Anhalt's state capital Magdeburg, and several cars of the train carrying some 45 passengers derailed and overturned, a spokesman for the district's firefighters said. He declined to be named in line with department policy.
Rescue operations were still under way early Sunday, and police had no immediate information as to what could have caused the accident late Saturday evening, regional police spokesman Frank Kuessner said.
Eight bodies were retrieved from the local passenger train and some 35 were injured, he said. Kuessner had no immediate explanation for the differing casualty figures.
"Rescue operations are still ongoing. The death toll may well rise further," he said. Almost 200 police and rescue workers were at the crash site, he added.
The accident happened about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Berlin, Germany's capital.
Saxony-Anhalt's Deputy Interior Minister Ruediger Erben, who rushed to the scene late Saturday, said the trains must have crashed head-on at a high rate of speed, German news agency DAPD reported. The noise of the collision was heard in Oschersleben village, some 4.35 miles (7 kilometers) from the crash site.