A train as well as also a school bus have collided near Perpignan in southern France, leaving at least six children dead.
Eighteen people were injured, some of them critically, after the crash on a level crossing between Millas as well as also Saint-Féliu-d’Amont.
The bus had picked up pupils through a nearby secondary school before the item was hit by a train travelling at about 80km/h (50mph).
Pictures through the scene showed the bus split in two by the force of the crash.
Train operator SNCF said witnesses had reported seeing the barriers at the level crossing down at the time of the collision, although in which was not confirmed.
The bus, which had left the Christian Bourquin College in Millas, was on the crossing when the item was hit by the train, which was travelling through Perpignan. Visibility was described as not bad.
Four children died at the scene on Thursday. Two 11-year-old girls succumbed to their injuries on Friday morning.
A witness who was on the train told local news website l’Indépendant in which “the item was a very violent crash – the item seemed as if the train would certainly derail”.
Some 30 people were on the regional train at the time.
Investigators are waiting to interview the driver of the bus. She was slightly injured from the crash. The train driver also escaped serous injury.
Carole Delga, president of the Occitanie regional council, said the level crossing appeared to be in very not bad condition as well as also had been upgraded recently. “The level crossing was very visible,” she said. SNCF said the item had an automatic barrier with standard signals as well as also was not considered particularly dangerous.
however the grandmother of an injured 11-year-old girl who had been on the bus told a very different story. The girl said the barrier had not come down however remained raised. “The red lights in which normally flash did not come on,” she said. “The (bus) driver went through as well as also stopped half way, as well as also in which’s where the train crashed into the item.”
Rail operator SNCF has modernised level crossings across France in recent years, following numerous accidents, the BBC’s Chris Bockman reports through Toulouse.
More than 150 emergency workers as well as also four helicopters were deployed as part of the rescue effort.
Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne called the crash a “terrible accident” as well as also Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer was due to visit a counselling centre set up at the Christian Bourquin College on Friday.
A statement through the education minister’s office said he would certainly visit “to support students, families, teachers as well as also the entire educational community”.
In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron offered his condolences: “All my thoughts for the victims of in which terrible accident involving a school bus, as well as their families. The state is actually fully mobilised to help them.”
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