4 children killed after school bus, train collide in France

The incident occurred at around 4 p.m. local time in the village of Millas.

ByABC News
December 14, 2017, 4:43 PM

PARIS -- A regional train and a school bus collided in southern France Thursday, killing four children and injuring more than a dozen other people.

The incident occurred around 4 p.m. local time in the village of Millas. About 20 students between the ages of 11 and 15 were being taken home in a school bus when it collided at a railway crossing with a train, local authorities said in a statement.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who flew to the scene of the accident, confirmed that four teenage children were killed and 11 others had been critically injured.

"The circumstances of this terrible drama are still undetermined," Philippe said.

PHOTO: French Prime minister Edouard Philippe makes a statement during his visit to the site of a train accident in Millas, southern France, Dec. 14, 2017.
French Prime minister Edouard Philippe makes a statement during his visit to the site of a train accident in Millas, southern France, Dec. 14, 2017.
Raymond Roig/AFP/Getty Images

A spokeswoman for the French national rail company, SNCF, told ABC News that the train normally travels about 50 miles per hour at the location of the crash and that 25 people were on board at the time. Three of the train's passengers were slightly injured.

An SNCF official told the Associated Press that "several witnesses said the barrier was down" at the time of the crash, adding that the crossing is "well-equipped" with safety precautions, including flashing lights.

PHOTO: Firefighters and police work at the site of an accident in Millas, near Perpignan, southern France, on Dec. 14, 2017, after a train crashed into a school bus at a level crossing.
Firefighters and police work at the site of an accident in Millas, near Perpignan, southern France, on Dec. 14, 2017, after a train crashed into a school bus at a level crossing.
Raymond Roig/AFP/Getty Images

All emergency services have been mobilized and a crisis coordination unit has been set up, local authorities said. 100 firefighters were called to the scene, along with 10 ambulances, two air ambulances, and two police helicopters.

"All my thoughts are with the victims of this terrible accident of a school bus and with their families. The state is fully mobilized to come to their aid," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

Psychological help is being offered to families and students on site, authorities said, and an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the accident.