PUISSEGUIN: At least 43 people were killed Friday when a coach carrying pensioners collided with a lorry and burst into flames in southwest France, in the country’s worst road accident for three decades.
The coach was carrying members of a pensioners’ club on an excursion when it was involved in a crash with the lorry near the village of Puisseguin east of Bordeaux.
Many of the victims were thought to have died in the fire, according to emergency workers and local authorities. The lorry driver was also killed along with his three-year-old son who was sitting beside him, said the local police chief.
French television pictures showed the coach was completely burned out, leaving only a charred shell.
“I’ve lost too many people in one go,” said Jean Solans, a resident of Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps, the tiny village of 650 where many passengers had boarded the bus. “I lost a brother, neighbours, friends – it’s unthinkable,” he said, overcome with emotion.
The plume of smoke could be seen from several kilometres away and many locals said that part of the road was known to be particularly dangerous.
“The driver of the lorry appears to have lost control of his vehicle, leaving him stranded in the middle of the road. The bus driver was unable to avoid the accident,” Puisseguin mayor Xavier Sublett told reporters
“I am astonished at the force of the crash. It will take a lot of time to recover all the bodies,” said a fireman at the scene.
Eight people, including the coach driver, managed to escape the burning wreckage.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.