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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. 




A group of pensioners have taken a novel approach to securing their dream holiday – namely going online and kick-starting a crowd-funding drive.

Their vacation aspiration was simple too: they hoped to travel by bus from their chilly Alpine village in northern Italy to Ugljan, a coastal resort in Croatia some 750km away.

Incredibly, much of the group has never even seen the sea before; those who have, haven't for many years. 

All are members of the Circolo Rododendro – the local older person's club – and the women meet for a few hours, two afternoons a week.

Nicknamed the Funne, on their weekly agenda is the likes of bingo, playing cards, idle chat and sometimes even a spot of ballroom dancing.

"Ever since I've been a member of the club, people have been saying, 'Come on, let's organise a trip to the seaside!'" Erminia who, at 70, is the youngest of the group, told the BBC.

"But something always went wrong: one would get sick, another would have some other problem."

Their home of Daone has a population of around 500 people, many of whom grew up poor.

"Do you know some people haven't even been to Trento?" Iolanda, another member, explained referring to the nearest city 60km away. "I was 20 the first time I went." And she is unusual in so far as she has seen the sea – in 1977 when she worked as a nanny.

The Funne started fundraising for their dream a year ago by holding a cake sale at the village fair: sadly, the result was underwhelming.

However, it was there that they bumped into Katia Bernardi, a local film documentary maker who has been following their fundraising endeavours ever since.

On Katia's suggestion, they initially tried making a novelty calendar.

A professional photographer and make-up artist (for most, the first and last time they wore make up was on their wedding day) came on board but the calendar was a flop – something which the ladies themselves put down to local disapproval and envy.

They had almost given up hope when Erminia's grandson suggested crowd-funding on the internet. She initially thought he was mad.

"I said, 'Don't be ridiculous, who's going to give money to a bunch of old ladies who want to go to the seaside?' They'll say, 'If you want to go to the seaside, you can pay for yourselves.'" 

Still, they saw donations flood in from as far away as London, New York and cities in Australia. Within three days they had more than doubled their target – money which was then used to take more women on the trip.

They have committed to sending all 350 of their donors a postcard too. 

They chose their Croatian island destination because Ugljan has the same patron saint as Daone: the Madonna of the snow. The saint's day is celebrated on Wednesday; their coach left Daone yesterday.