Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 04/23 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 04/23 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 04/23 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 04/23 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 04/22 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 04/22 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 04/23 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 04/23 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 04/22 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 04/23 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 04/22 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 04/23 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 04/22 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
France

Macron, Merkel express condolences for French bus crash victims' families

media Pupils with a parent and a gendarme arrive at the victims' school in Millas, near Perpignan, on Friday PASCAL PAVANI / AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed the "solidarity of the nation" with the families of victims of Thursday's bus crash, in which five teenagers died and several others were injured. A legal inquiry into involuntary homicide and injury has been opened.

"I wish to express the solidarity and the condolences of the nation to the victims' families," Macron said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of a European Union summit in Brussels.

Merkel declared her "compassion for the victims' families".

Macron thanked the government and emergency services for mobilising support after the crash, in which a train ploughed into a school bus on a level crossing in south-west France, killing four school students and injuring more than a dozen, mainly teenagers.

A fifth teenager died on Friday.

Investigation opened

Public prosecutors in Marseille have opened an inquiry and two examining magistrates were at the scene on Friday, officials announced.

Investigators only finished identifying the dead overnight because of the severity of the injuries.

The lower house of parliament also paid tribute to the victims and their families on Friday.

The "terrible accident" has "affected France and French families", Public Accounts Minister Gérald Darmanin said, after National Assembly vice-president Annie Genevard declared that tall the MPs were "deeply moved".

The bus driver was among the injured and has not been questioned, although the train driver has.

Questions over level crossing

The national rail company, the SNCF, has cited witnesses saying that the level crossing was working and said there was good visibility.

But Samuel Conegero, the father of one of the children, has said his son took a photo that showed the barriers were raised.

A 60-strong psychological support team was sent to the school to provide support for the families.

The accident is the worst involving a school bus in France since 1987, when 53 people including 44 children were killed in a pile-up involving two coaches that were taking students to a summer camp.

30 accidents a year

There are about 30 accidents a year on France's 15,000 level crossings.

The SNCF has promised to modernise them as debate rages as to whether the tragedy was the result of a technical failure.

Like 11,000 other French level crossings, the one at Millas is automatically activated by pedals on the rails that react to a train's wheels passing over them.

There are 163 crossings are declared safety priorities because they have been the scene of several accidents in the course of 10 years but the Millas crossing was not one of them.

There were 126 accidents on level crossings, in which 31 people died, in France in 2016.

According to the SNCF, 98 percent of such accidents were the fault of road users, the remaining two percent being due to vandalism, the weather or animals.

Related
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.