At least 42 people killed in head-on collision in south-western France


In the worst traffic accident to happen in France in more than three decades, at least 42 people have been killed in a horrific head-on collision in the south-west of the country.

The country's president Francois Hollande has already said he is "deeply saddened" by the incident and has declared that the French government is doing everything it can.

RTÉ News reports that a truck and a bus collided near the village of Puisseguin, located about 55km north-east of Bordeaux, at 7.30am local time. Local media is furthermore saying that both the coach and the lorry burst into flames upon impact – something which undoubtedly contributed to the unusually high death toll.

Around 60 firefighters were called to the scene to deal with the crash. 

Both drivers are dead, along with at least 40 others – French pensioners off to Les Landes for a walking trip – who were travelling on the bus. Only eight are believed to have survived the collision. Four of those have relatively minor injuries, with the other four battling serious brain trauma or burns. 

Puisseguin Mayor Xavier Sublett told RTL radio this morning that he believes the truck driver lost control of the vehicle.

The bus driver "tried to avoid it, but the truck came and hit it, and he couldn't do anything except activate the mechanism to open the doors to allow some people to get out," Mr Sublett said.

Driving conditions this morning in the region were normal, but Gérard Dupuy, a town hall official in Puisseguin, told France Info the crash happened on a dangerous bend where there had been other accidents in the past.