Police have said an investigation has begun into the cause of the derailment [AFP]

At least eight people have died in a train derailment near the popular beach resort town of Hua Hin in central Thailand.

More than 50 people were injured when the train jumped the tracks before dawn on Monday.

Yuthana Thapcharoen, head of the State Railways of Thailand, declined to comment on media speculation that the accident had been caused by a malfunctioning equipment.

"We regret the loss of life and we are investigating the cause of the incident," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Police Lieutenant-Colonel Udom Chainoom said it was raining heavily when the accident happened but could not confirm that weather conditions were to blame.

The train was heading from the southern city of Trang to the capital, Bangkok and all of the dead were Thai nationals, he added.

Udom said some of the bodies could not immediately be pulled from the twisted train cars, half a dozen of which had derailed.

Officials have said it could take more than a day to clear the wreckage and restart the rail link along the main line between the south and the capital.

Source: Agencies