Chinese officials say at least 70 people were killed and hundreds injured when two passenger trains collided Monday in eastern China.

The official Xinhua news agency says the trains collided before dawn near the city of Zibo, in Shandong province. The agency said more than 400 people have been hospitalized, with about 70 listed in critical condition, suggesting the death toll could rise.

Xinhua cited officials who said human error caused an express from Beijing to the eastern city of Qingdao to derail and hit the second train, traveling from the city of Yantai in Shandong to Xuzhou in Jiangsu province. Both trains were reportedly traveling at full speed.

Authorities said they ruled out terrorism.

Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang has been dispatched to the area to oversee rescue efforts.

The accident is the worst in China since 1997, when more than 100 people were killed in a train wreck in the central province of Hunan.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.