Friday 9 December 2016

Aerial pictures show mangled remains of France crash that killed at least 43 people

Regis Duvignau

Published 23/10/2015 | 18:12

An aerial view of the site where a coach (bottom) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (top) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
An aerial view of the site where a coach (bottom) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (top) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
An aerial view of the site where a coach (R) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (L) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
A frame grab taken from French iTele video footage shows an aerial view of the site where a coach (Bottom) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (Top) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/iTele/via REUTERS TV
In this aerial photo taken from video, showing the scene after a truck and a bus transporting retirees on a day trip collided and caught fire Friday in wine country in southwest France, killing 42-people and badly injuring four others, authorities said, Friday Oct. 23, 2015, near the village of Puisseguin, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Bordeaux, France. ( iTélé FRANCE TV via AP)

Aerial views show the mangled remains of both vehicles in a crash that killed at least 43 people in France.

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It has been described as the country's worst road crash in more than 30 years.

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

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

An aerial view of the site where a coach (R) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (L) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
An aerial view of the site where a coach (R) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (L) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

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," Mr Sublett said.

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

A frame grab taken from French iTele video footage shows an aerial view of the site where a coach (Bottom) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (Top) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/iTele/via REUTERS TV
A frame grab taken from French iTele video footage shows an aerial view of the site where a coach (Bottom) carrying members of an elderly people's club collided with a truck (Top) outside Puisseguin near Bordeaux, western France, October 23, 2015. REUTERS/iTele/via REUTERS TV

"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," Dr Flipot said.

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

In this aerial photo taken from video, showing the scene after a truck and a bus transporting retirees on a day trip collided and caught fire Friday in wine country in southwest France, killing 42-people and badly injuring four others, authorities said, Friday Oct. 23, 2015, near the village of Puisseguin, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Bordeaux, France. ( iTélé FRANCE TV via AP)
In this aerial photo taken from video, showing the scene after a truck and a bus transporting retirees on a day trip collided and caught fire Friday in wine country in southwest France, killing 42-people and badly injuring four others, authorities said, Friday Oct. 23, 2015, near the village of Puisseguin, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of Bordeaux, France. ( iTélé FRANCE TV via AP)

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.

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 day-long ham-tasting trip to Arzacq-Arraziguet, 120 miles away. The bus had travelled just a few minutes, about four miles, when the collision occurred.

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

Reuters

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