At least 42 killed in horrific accident in France

2015-10-23 16:55
An aerial picture shows the scene of the accident east of Bordeaux. (France TV via AP)

An aerial picture shows the scene of the accident east of Bordeaux. (France TV via AP)

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Paris - At least 42 people were killed and several more injured after a bus and a truck collided in south-western France on Friday, the Elysee Palace said, one of the deadliest road accidents in the country in decades.

The accident occurred near the village of Puisseguin, 50km east of Bordeaux, when a bus and a truck collided and burst into flames. Aerial television images of the crash site showed a sharp curve on a narrow road through a densely wooded area.

Officials said the bus passengers were senior citizens on an excursion, but said it would take time before the victims were formally identified. The outing was scheduled to have returned the elderly passengers home in the evening, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

Calling it one of the worst road disasters in the country's recent history, Valls added that the crash was "a terrible shock for France and today the French are in mourning."

French authorities have launched an investigation into the cause of the accident, regional chief Pierre Dartout told reporters.

Dartout said that four people survived with serious injuries and another four people were lightly injured or traumatised. Injured survivors had been transported by helicopter to a hospital in Bordeaux, he said.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandet had said earlier that a few people managed to escape the flames by leaving the bus.

Puisseguin mayor Xavier Sublett told RTL radio that the truck had likely caused the accident.

"It seems that it was the truck [driver] who lost control of his vehicle and traversed the road," he said.

"[The bus driver] tried to avoid the accident, but the truck collided with it and the driver didn't have time to do anything but activate the mechanism that opens the doors allowing some to exit," Sublett added.

French broadcasters reported that the bus driver was one of the survivors.

Firefighters and police were at the scene and investigators were gathering evidence that might shed light on the cause of the accident.

Read more on:    france

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