Victims of schoolbus crash in southern France identified

Four children killed as bus split in two in collision with train at railway crossing

Rescue workers  on the site of collision between a train and a schoolbus in Millas, France, on Thursday night. Photograph: France Bleu Roussillon via Reuters

Rescue workers on the site of collision between a train and a schoolbus in Millas, France, on Thursday night. Photograph: France Bleu Roussillon via Reuters

 

The four children killed in a crash involving a regional train and a school bus close to the border with Spain have been identified, French authorities have said.

The families of the children have also been notified.

Philippe Vignes, the head of the local authority in the Pyrenees-Orientales, said on BFM television that eight people remained in a serious condition on Friday, including seven children and the bus driver.

Twelve others suffered less serious injuries. The bus was carrying about 20 children aged between 11 and 15.

Investigators were working to determine the cause of the accident at the crossing in Millas.

Mr Vignes said he could not confirm whether the railway crossing barriers were closed or open when the accident happened. He said “there are contradictory rumours. We need to be very careful”.

Images from the scene showed the bus split in two, with a long line of emergency vehicles on an approach to the crossing.

The train was carrying 25 passengers and travelling at 80km/h, the regulatory speed for the section of track where the collision occurred, a spokeswoman for the national SNCF railway said. Three train passengers sustained relatively minor injuries, according to the interior ministry.

Witnesses had reported that the barriers of the crossing were down at the moment of impact, the SNCF spokeswoman said, adding that all such preliminary information was “subject to confirmation” by investigators.

France has suffered several serious rail accidents in recent decades. One of the deadliest was in 1988, when a commuter train heading into Paris’ Gare de Lyon crashed into a stationary train, killing 56 people, after its brakes failed. – AP/Reuters