Four children dead and several people injured as train collides with a school bus in France

A school bus and a regional train have collided in southern France, killing four children and critically injuring seven other people on the bus, the French interior ministry said.

Photos from the scene tweeted by a local television station showed the train derailed and the bus shorn in half.

Nine other people on the school bus and three on the train had less severe injuries.

It happened on a railway crossing in the small village of Millas some nine miles west of Perpignan, close to the border with Spain.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer were at the scene along with 70 firefighters, 10 emergency ambulances and four helicopters.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was en route.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “All my thoughts go to the victims of this terrible accident and their families. The government is fully mobilised to give them emergency help.”

France’s SNCF national rail authority said witnesses described the crossing gates as functioning properly at the time the train crashed into the bus.

An SNCF official said the train normally travels at 80km per hour at the location of the crash near Perpignan.

The official said “several witnesses said the barrier was down” at the time of the crash. She said 25 people were on the train at the time and are “totally shocked”.

She said that the crossing is “well-equipped” with flashing lights and the latest technology. She said it would be up to an investigation to determine whether everything functioned properly at the time of the accident this evening.

 French authorities say four children have died in a “serious rail accident” in southern France involving a school bus and a regional train.

The Pyrenees-Orientales authority tweeted that the collision occurred this afternoon on a railway crossing at a small town about nine miles west of Perpignan, close to the border with Spain.

Nineteen others are injured.

A transport minister’s called it a ‘terrible accident’.

Emergency services have been deployed to the site of the accident.