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International

Children killed as train and school bus collide in southern France

12:25, Friday, 15 December, 2017
Children killed as train and school bus collide in southern France

A train has ploughed into a school bus at a crossing in southern France, killing at least four children and injuring more than 20 others, nine critically.

Most of the victims were reported to be aged between 13 and 17.

Photographs from the scene showed that the bus was sliced in half in what the authorities described as a “serious rail accident”. Helicopters took the injured to hospital.

The school bus was 12 miles (20km) west of Perpignan, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, heading towards the village of Villefranche-de-Conflent when it was hit. It was carrying pupils from the Christian Bourquin secondary school at Millas heading home to two villages, Saint Féliu d’Amont and Saint Féliu d’Avall.

The mayor of Saint Féliu d’Amont, Robert Olive, who went to the scene, said he was “deeply shocked”. He described it as a “horrific sight”.

“I don’t know what happened, but the school bus had been actually cut in two by the passing train,” Olive told the local radio France Bleu Roussillon. “The bus appeared to have exploded. People were being very dignified but everyone was shocked.”

After travelling to Perpignan and meeting victims’ families, an emotional Édouard Philippe, the French prime minister, described the accident as a “terrible drama”.

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