The train, which was en route to Guangdong province, derailed after running into debris that had fallen onto the tracks near a tunnel.

Video footage published by multiple Chinese outlets showed severe damage to the driver's car.
Video footage published by multiple Chinese outlets showed severe damage to the driver's car. (AP)

The driver of a high-speed train in southern China has been killed and eight people have been injured when two cars derailed after hitting a mudslide.

The accident occurred on Saturday morning as the train was entering a tunnel in the inland southern province of Guizhou, state broadcaster CCTV reported. It had been traveling on a regular route to the coastal business centre of Guangzhou.

A rail conductor and seven passengers were injured and sent to hospital, CCTV said, adding that "their lives were not in danger".

The other 136 people aboard the train were evacuated safely.

The footage in Chinese media showed confused passengers and children screaming in one of the train cars after the crash, with food and belongings strewn across the floor of the otherwise undamaged car.

READ MORE: No survivors found in wreckage of China Eastern plane crash

Extensive network

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Landslides have become common in the region from a combination of heavy precipitation and the development of infrastructure in mountainous areas.

China has the world's most extensive high-speed rail network, with 40,000 kilometres of tracks nationwide and trains running at more than 300 kilometres per hour. 

Hundreds of millions of passengers are carried annually, although that figure has been severely reduced under pandemic-related travel restrictions.

The system's safety record has been generally good, with the exception of a 2011 collision between two trains outside the southern city of Wenzhou that left at least 40 people dead.

READ MORE: Taiwan in mourning after deadliest train disaster in decades

Source: TRTWorld and agencies