Twelve Portuguese killed in French minibus crash
Twelve Portuguese passengers, including a seven-year-old girl, died when their minibus collided with a heavy goods truck on a road in central France known locally as "the road of death".
The crash occurred late Thursday as the minibus was travelling from Switzerland to Portugal, taking the passengers home for the Easter holidays.
“The twelve passengers of the minibus, who were all Portuguese, are dead,” said a statement from the local authority.
Authorities said the minibus swerved for an unknown reason and slammed head-first into the truck on a notorious traffic blackspot near the town of Moulins.
The minibus driver and two Italian drivers of the truck survived with injuries which they are expected to survive.
An initial inquiry said the driver of the minibus was not under the influence of alcohol, and police have opened an investigation into the cause of the crash.
The road “is quite monotonous, the speed limit is 90 kilometres per hour. There are those who are impatient and those who fall asleep,” said a source close to the investigation, adding that there are only four passing zones in the area.
“They’ve been talking about adding a second lane for 40 years,” he added.
A local official told AFP: “It’s the deadliest road in France. When you add it up, we’ve had 15 deaths in a year.”
Locals have nicknamed it “the road of death,” added this official.
A local village hall was being used as a temporary morgue.
The road was closed following the accident, and was expected to remain shut until 9:00 am (0800 GMT) Friday.