Seven children killed in bus-train collision in France

June 3rd, 2008 - 8:53 am ICT by IANS  

Paris, June 3 (DPA) Seven schoolchildren were killed Monday when a regional train slammed into their schoolbus in the Upper Savoy region of southeast France, local police said. In addition, 25 people were injured in the accident, which occurred at a level crossing near Mesinges, on the railway line between Annemasse and Thonon-les-Bains. Three of the injured were said to be in grave condition.

All of the injured were taken to hospitals in Thonon-les-Bains and Geneva, a spokeswoman for the local Upper Savoy government said.

Catherine Dufour, a local secretary for a firm located 50 metres from the site of the crash, told the web site of the weekly Le Point, “At about 2 pm I heard a very loud noise. I looked out of the window and I saw the bus cut in two.”

Another witness said that the bus looked to have been trapped between the gates of the crossing.

The bus was transporting 50 students between 11 and 13 years of age and six adults on a school trip to the picturesque medieval village of Yvoire on Lake Geneva near Thonon-les-Bains.

The students were all from a school in Thonon-les-Bains, where fellow students and teachers were said to be in a state of shock, the web site of the daily Le Figaro reported.

Commenting on the accident, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Paris, “Each of us is thinking about the children, the adults, whoever the victims are. Unfortunately, we can do nothing but hope there will be as few victims as possible.”

The cause of the accident remained unclear. First indications were that the gates at the level crossing had been functioning normally.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and the the junior minister for transportattion, Dominique Bussereau, traveled to the scene of the accident.

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