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42 People Die After Bus Crashes In Southwest France

In what's being called one of the deadliest crashes in France's history, a bus carrying 50 people collided with a truck near Bordeaux, killing 42 people. Most of the bus's passengers were senior citizens; it had recently departed from a nearby village for a sightseeing trip.

The accident happened on a narrow and curvy country road outside the village of Puisseguin. After what's being reported as a head-on collision, both vehicles burst into flames.

Along with the bus driver, the vehicle had 49 passengers. It left Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps, a village of about 800 that's northeast of Bordeaux, earlier Friday.

Citing Puisseguin's Mayor Xavier Sublett, France 24 reports that the driver of the truck lost control of his vehicle, and the bus couldn't avoid it. Sublett also said the driver managed to open the bus's doors, allowing some passengers to escape.

"Seventy firemen were deployed to the scene as part of rescue operations," reporter Jake Cigainero says from Paris. "A local official said the collision site is known to be dangerous, and that several accidents have already occurred there."

Jake adds, "The crash is the deadliest in France since 1982, when a highway accident killed 53 people, mostly children."

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Prime Minister Manuel Valls are now visiting the area; French President Francois Hollande sent his condolences from Greece, where he's currently visiting. He added that he will visit the crash site.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.