The accident, the worst in 33 years, occurred 60 kilometres east of Bordeaux, near the village of Puisseguin on the departmental road D17.
TV images showed the charred shell of the burned out coach, which was carrying senior citizens from the local region on a day trip. Both vehicles were engulfed in flames as a result of the crash.
Most of the victims died in the fire, according to emergency workers and local authorities in the department of Gironde. The bus driver is understood to have survived. The truck driver and his young passenger did not survive.
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) October 23, 2015
Around 60 firefighters were called to the scene to deal with the crash.
The bus, which was carrying 49 passengers and a driver, had departed early Friday from Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps village near the site of the accident to take its elderly passengers out on an excursion to the Basque country in south western France.
(The bus left Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps , just seven minutes away from where the crash occurred. Photo: GoogleMaps)
Initial reports said the bus skidded as it went round a turn and smashed into the truck but other reports say it was the truck that swerved out of control as it went into the bend and hit the bus.
Locals say the turn (seen below) is known for being hard to navigate, with one resident who lives just 500 metres from the crash scene telling BFM TV the bend is “dangerous – even for cars”.
(Photo: Google Street View)
He added that there are no signs to warn of the danger, and that one side of the road has a small drop, while the other is angled in such a way that its “almost a blind spot”.
— Sud Ouest (@sudouest) October 23, 2015
“There are helicopters above and firefighters and police are everywhere. There must be at least 10 ambulances.”
Another resident living nearby said: “It happened just behind us, but we didn't see it, the first thing we knew was when we heard all the sirens.”
Un accident a provoqué de nombreux morts en Gironde. Le gouvernement français est totalement mobilisé sur cette terrible tragédie.
— François Hollande (@fhollande) October 23, 2015