- Five people remain missing and 12 are seriously injured, authorities say
- The TGV was operating on a new stretch of line that's due to open next year
Around 50 people -- mostly engineers and other railway staff -- were aboard the TGV when it derailed outside the city of Strasbourg, according to the French railway operator SNCF.
Images from the scene showed sections of the train partially submerged in the canal, near a bridge.
Besides those killed, five other people remain unaccounted for, 12 were seriously injured and 22 were slightly injured, the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy said in a statement.
The news agency Agence France-Presse reported that it was the country's first fatal TGV accident in three decades.
'Dramatic accident' under investigation
The ecology ministry, which is responsible for the transportation sector, said the cause of the "dramatic accident" wasn't yet known. Technical experts have been called in to investigate.
The SNCF said there was nothing at this stage to link the disaster to the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.
AFP cited a senior local official, Dominique-Nicolas Jane, as saying that the accident happened "because of excessive speed."
The train was running on a new stretch of a high-speed line linking Paris with Strasbourg that's due to open next year.
Millions of travelers use France's extensive TGV network every year.