BEIJING – A pre-dawn collision Monday between two passenger trains in eastern China killed at least 66 people and injured 247, a state news agency reported.

Witnesses said a train traveling from Beijing to coastal Qingdao city derailed and hit a second train at about 4:40 a.m., Xinhua News Agency said.

The crash happened in the city of Zibo in Shandong province. The second train had been traveling from Yantai to Xuzhou.

News photos showed the derailed train laying at the bottom of a ditch, with rescuers removing passengers from a carriage that had fallen onto its side.

Survivors with white sheets wrapped around their shoulders stood or sat near the wreckage. The second train did not fall into the ditch, but a news photo showed one of its carriages resting perpendicular to the track.

The head of the Ministry of Railways, Liu Zhijun, was headed to the site to oversee rescue efforts, the Web site of the Shandong government said.

In January, 18 people died when a train hurtling through the night at more than 75 mph slammed into a group of about 100 workers carrying out track maintenance near the city of Anqiu in Shandong province.

Xinhua said the latest accident had cut traffic on the Jinan-Qingdao railway, which links the provincial capital of Jinan with Qingdao.