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Bus carrying pensioners on a day trip collides with truck near Bordeaux . It is the worst French road disaster since 1982.
At least 42 people, most of them pensioners on a day trip, have been killed in a head-on collision between a bus and a truck in south-west France. The crash happened on a country road near Puisseguin in the Gironde wine region, east of Bordeaux. Both vehicles then caught fire.
France's president promised a full investigation into what he called an "immense tragedy". It is the worst French road disaster since 1982, when 52 people died.
The bus collided with the timber truck at 07:30 local time (05:30 GMT), at what local residents described as a notoriously dangerous bend in the road. Both vehicles quickly caught fire.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls, speaking from the scene, said 42 people died "in atrocious conditions in this bus, which was in flames after a very violent head-on collision". He said eight people had survived, four of whom were in a serious condition.
Regional officials said the bus driver had survived the crash but the lorry driver was among the fatalities.
MOST OF THE VICTIMS ARE PENSIONERS
Most of those on board the bus were members of an elderly people's association from the small town of Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps, which has a population of just 700, along with others from neighbouring communities.
They had not long left on their journey, and were heading south for a day trip into the Landes region.
Town councillor Jeremiah Bessard told iTele channel that its residents had been hit hard by the news: "We all knew someone". The flags in Puisseguin have been lowered to half mast, reports Sud Ouest.
More than 60 fire-fighters attended the scene. The wounded were airlifted to hospital. The exact cause of the crash is not yet clear.
President Francois Hollande, who is on a visit to Athens, said the government had "fully mobilised" to deal with the tragedy, and said he had been "plunged into sadness".