43 killed in fiery bus-truck collision in French wine region - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

43 killed in fiery bus-truck collision in French wine region

Pascal Wijler / Twitter / MGN Pascal Wijler / Twitter / MGN

By BOB EDME and ANGELA CHARLTON
Associated Press

PUISSEGUIN, France (AP) - A truck and a bus carrying retirees collided Friday in southwest France's wine region, igniting an inferno that authorities said killed 43 people and badly injured four others. It was France's deadliest road accident in more than 30 years.

Images on French television showed the carcass of the bus - a collapsing, charred frame engulfed by smoke near the village of Puisseguin, 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Bordeaux. The seats were nothing but empty metal frames.

Aerial views showed the mangled remains of both vehicles on a narrow, curving road surrounded by trees.

Eight people, including the driver, escaped after the driver quickly opened the bus door, but others were trapped as flames quickly consumed the vehicles, Puisseguin Mayor Xavier Sublett said on i-Tele television.

Among those killed was the truck driver's 3-year-old son who was traveling with his father and whose small body was discovered in the truck's wreckage. French media said the truck driver was among the dead.

The mayor told RTL radio the truck driver lost control of the vehicle. The bus driver "tried to avoid it, but the truck came and hit it," Sublett said.

Dr. Philippe Flipot of Puisseguin said he spoke to the bus driver afterward.

"He found himself facing a jack-knifed truck, he couldn't avoid it. He managed to open the doors and some passengers could get off the bus. Risking his life, because flames were licking him, he managed to evacuate some people," Flipot said on Europe-1 radio.

Other authorities remained cautious about the circumstances of the crash. An investigation is underway. The weather in the region was overcast Friday morning but not rainy. The

Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the crash the deadliest road accident in France in more than 30 years, and a "terrible shock" for the country.

One of the injured was the driver of a car who stopped and tried to help rescue people, legislator Gilles Savary told RTL radio.

Police said the death toll was unusually high because both vehicles caught fire immediately. Scores of emergency workers rushed to the scene and helicopters evacuated severely burned victims.

The accident was devastating for the surrounding communities. The bus was carrying members of a senior citizens' club from the town of Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps on a daylong ham-tasting trip to Arzacq-Arraziguet, 200 kilometers (120 miles) away. The bus had traveled just a few minutes, about seven kilometers (four miles), when the collision occurred.

Identifying the victims was difficult because the passenger list burned in the fire, Savary said.

Questions surfaced about the safety of the road, and especially the curve. Legislator Noel Mamere, who represents the Gironde region where the accident occurred, said the collision was on an "extremely dangerous curve that is considered very accident-prone."

"That should make us question ourselves about political choices made in terms of infrastructure," Mamere said.

Savary said some roads in the region are in need of repair, but added there's no way to ensure 100 percent safety on French roads.

Calling the crash an "immense tragedy," French President Francois Hollande promised an investigation into what happened. Hollande, visiting Greece at the time, also expressed "the solidarity of the whole nation" with the victims' loved ones.

___

Charlton reported from Paris. Sylvie Corbet and Greg Keller in Paris and Derek Gatopoulos in Athens contributed.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Tough course or easy, Brooks Koepka repeats as US Open champ

    Tough course or easy, Brooks Koepka repeats as US Open champ

    Sunday, June 17 2018 8:59 AM EDT2018-06-17 12:59:32 GMT
    Sunday, June 17 2018 8:00 PM EDT2018-06-18 00:00:59 GMT
    (AP Photo/Julio Cortez). Dustin Johnson misses a putt on the 18th green during the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez). Dustin Johnson misses a putt on the 18th green during the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y.
    The toughest test at US Open is getting Shinnecock Hills in the right condition for a memorable final round.
    The toughest test at US Open is getting Shinnecock Hills in the right condition for a memorable final round.
  • Trump adviser says 'nobody likes' family separation policy

    Trump adviser says 'nobody likes' family separation policy

    Sunday, June 17 2018 10:49 AM EDT2018-06-17 14:49:42 GMT
    Sunday, June 17 2018 8:00 PM EDT2018-06-18 00:00:50 GMT
    (Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP). U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration policy and law enforcement actions at Lackawanna College in downtown Scranton, Pa., on Friday, June 15, 2018.(Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP). U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration policy and law enforcement actions at Lackawanna College in downtown Scranton, Pa., on Friday, June 15, 2018.

    A White House adviser is distancing the Trump administration from responsibility for a jump in the number of migrant children being separated from their parents by authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    A White House adviser is distancing the Trump administration from responsibility for a jump in the number of migrant children being separated from their parents by authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Trump adviser Roger Stone reveals new meeting with Russian

    Trump adviser Roger Stone reveals new meeting with Russian

    Sunday, June 17 2018 4:29 PM EDT2018-06-17 20:29:54 GMT
    Sunday, June 17 2018 8:00 PM EDT2018-06-18 00:00:48 GMT
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2017, file photo, longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is ex...(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2017, file photo, longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is ex...
    Special counsel examining a previously undisclosed meeting between longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone and a Russian figure who allegedly tried to sell him dirt on Hillary Clinton.
    Special counsel examining a previously undisclosed meeting between longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone and a Russian figure who allegedly tried to sell him dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Powered by Frankly