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Ten die in tragic weekend on French roads
The overturned tourist bus which crashed off the A9 motorway near Fitou in the French department of Aude on August 11th, killing two people. Photo: PH LeBlanc/AFP

Ten die in tragic weekend on French roads

Published: 12 Aug 2013 09:12 GMT+02:00

France experienced a lethal 24-hour period on its roads between Saturday and Sunday, with at least 10 people losing their lives in a series of accidents. 

Excessive speed appears to have played a role in some of the deaths, but a passenger-driver dispute on a bus carrying French and Spanish tourists led to a crash which killed two people on Sunday.

The Eurolines bus was carrying 44 French and Spanish tourists between Marseilles and Murcia in southern Spain on Sunday morning, when it deviated from the A9 motorway near Fitou, in the south-western department of Aude.

The vehicle hit a roadside barrier and hurtled down the hard shoulder, before crashing in a field, killing a 54-year-old Frenchman and a 55-year-old Spanish woman, Narbonne prosecutor David Charmatz told TF1 television.

Two others were seriously injured but are in a stable condition in hospital, along with 12 fellow passengers and the driver of the bus.

On Sunday evening, a Ukrainian tourist aged in his 30s admitted grabbing the steering wheel from the driver during a dispute in which he insisted, for unknown reasons, that the vehicle come to an immediate stop.

Elsewhere in the department of Aude, five people were killed after a car crashed while travelling between Carcassone and Trèbes at around 5pm on Saturday.

Three men and two women aged between 18 and 25 lost their lives, and an 18-year-old man remains in a serious condition, when the vehicle collided with a concrete pillar at the entrance to a scrapyard.

A single-car accident near Lorient in Brittany at around 8am on Sunday killed three people when the vehicle crossed a safety barrier, crashing off road and catching fire.

Excessive speed is suspected as a cause of the accident, according to preliminary reports.

Separately, a group of escaped horses caused havoc on the roads near Pontarlier, in the eastern department of Doubs, leading to a number of accidents on Saturday night which left eight people injured. 

The eleven animals, which escaped from their enclosure after a horse festival in the town of Houtaud, collided with four vehicles in total, according to reports. 

A female motorist was seriously injured and taken to hospital after colliding with a horse on the RN57 motorway. The horse, along with two other escapees, died from its injuries. 

Last week authorities reported that road deaths in July 2013 hit their lowest level since 1948. Although 345 people died in traffic accidents, the figure represented a drop of 5.7 percent on the same month last year.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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