Four children dead and several others injured in train and bus collision in France

Update 9.58pm: The French Prime Minister has arrived at the site of a crash between a train and school bus, which has left 4 children dead.

A regional train has hit a school bus on a crossing in southern France, killing four children and critically injuring seven other people on the bus.

Nineteen others are believed to be injured, with many of them in a serious condition after the incident near Perpignan.

Photos from the scene showed the train derailed and the bus cut in half.

It was not immediately clear why the accident happened on the crossing in Millas, nine miles west of Perpignan, close to the border with Spain.

France's SNCF national rail authority said witnesses described the crossing gates as functioning properly.

Regional President Carole Delga told broadcaster France-Info that "it appears that there was no mechanical problem at this crossing".

The school bus was taking children home from the Christian Bourquin school in the small village of Millas. It was carrying around 20 children aged between 11 and 15, the local authority said.

Psychological help is being offered in a local sports hall from Friday morning.

Photo: France Bleu Roussillon/Handout via Reuters

Nine other people on the bus and three on the train had less severe injuries.

An SNCF official said that the train was carrying 25 people including passengers and crew and all are accounted for and being offered psychological care. The official added that the train normally travels at 80km per hour at that location.

The official said "several witnesses said the barrier was down" at the time of the crash. She said the people on the train were "totally shocked".

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer were at the scene on Thursday evening along with 70 firefighters, 10 emergency ambulances and four helicopters.

Mr Blanquer tweeted: "France is in mourning."

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also arrived at the scene on Thursday evening.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "All my thoughts go to the victims of this terrible accident and their families. The government is fully mobilised to give them emergency help."

Around 70 emergency workers and four helicopters are involved in the rescue effort.

Update 6.14pm: A school bus and a regional train have collided in southern France, killing four children and critically injuring seven other people on the bus, the French interior ministry said.

Photos from the scene tweeted by a local television station showed the train derailed and the bus shorn in half.

Nine other people on the school bus and three on the train had less severe injuries.

It happened on a railway crossing in the small village of Millas some nine miles west of Perpignan, close to the border with Spain.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer were at the scene along with 70 firefighters, 10 emergency ambulances and four helicopters.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was en route.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "All my thoughts go to the victims of this terrible accident and their families. The government is fully mobilised to give them emergency help."

France's SNCF national rail authority said witnesses described the crossing gates as functioning properly at the time the train crashed into the bus.

An SNCF official said the train normally travels at 80km per hour at the location of the crash near Perpignan.

The official said "several witnesses said the barrier was down" at the time of the crash. She said 25 people were on the train at the time and are "totally shocked".

She said that the crossing is "well-equipped" with flashing lights and the latest technology. She said it would be up to an investigation to determine whether everything functioned properly at the time of the accident this evening.

Earlier: French authorities say four children have died in a "serious rail accident" in southern France involving a school bus and a regional train.

The Pyrenees-Orientales authority tweeted that the collision occurred this afternoon on a railway crossing at a small town about nine miles west of Perpignan, close to the border with Spain.

Nineteen others are injured.

A transport minister's called it a 'terrible accident'.

Emergency services have been deployed to the site of the accident.

More to follow.


 

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