• France's news in English

Questions remain after France's tragic bus crash

Oliver Gee · 23 Oct 2015, 17:56

Published: 23 Oct 2015 17:56 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Oct 2015 17:56 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
1. What actually happened?
Details of how the actual crash occurred remain unclear. A press conference is set to be held on Friday evening by local authorities and police during which more information should be given.
But information has leaked out from various witness reports and local officials.
We already know that the bus was engulfed in flames immediately after the crash, which is why most of the 41 passengers are said to have died from the flames rather than the impact. 
While nothing is confirmed, it seems that the truck had stopped for some reason in the middle of the road. The picture below appears to show the truck on the left hand side of the road, with the driver's cabin jutting off at an angle.
Puisseguin mayor Xavier Sublett told reporters that the lorry "appears to have lost control of his vehicle, leaving him stranded in the middle of the road". He added that the bus was "unable to avoid the accident". 
The bus driver suggested the same thing to a doctor at the scene.
"He told me that he came face to face with a jack-knifed truck that he couldn't avoid," Doctor Philippe Flipot told Europe 1. 
The truck driver, together with his three-year-old son and co-passenger, died instantly.
A legal expert specializing in accidents told L'Express that the extent of damage was consistent with two vehicles travelling at 70 or 80 km/h.
Police will be able to analyze skid marks and the vehicles themselves to determine what happened in the last moments. Coroners will also determine whether drugs or alcohol were factors.
It remains unknown if the passengers were wearing seat belts at the time, and whether this played a part in the death toll. Further details about the passengers are expected on Saturday. 
2. How dangerous was the bend in the road?
Local residents have said that the bend is notoriously dangerous to navigate - even in a car - thanks to a drop on one side and a wooded hillside on the other creating a blind corner. 
One local said there are no warning signs in the area, either (see overhead view of the bend below).

(Photo: Google Maps)
Francois Decauze from the village Petits-Palais knows the road well. He told The Local it is a route used frequently be heavy goods vehicles.
Decauze said the road was narrow and parts of it were not in a good state.
A look at the bend on Google Maps, which has Street View enabled, suggests that it would be a tight fit for two large vehicles to pass, especially at high speed. 
Here are two images from Google Street View, the first showing the bend for drivers heading south (like the bus), the second showing the northwards journey (the direction of the truck).
(Photo: Google Street View)

(Photo: Google Street View)
3. Why did the fire engulf the bus so quickly?
Story continues below…
Considering the 41 bus passengers are said to have died from the fire, questions are being asked as to why the vehicle was so quickly engulfed in flames. 
As the bus was only around 7 kilometers into what was supposed to be a day trip to the Basque country, one could assume the vehicle likely had a full tank of fuel.

(The bus left Petit-Palais-et-Cornemps , just seven minutes away from where the crash occurred. Photo: GoogleMaps)
But this shouldn't have made any difference, according to Michel Seyt, the president of motoring group FNTV.
He told the AFP news agency that a bus "shouldn't burn so quickly", noting that the engine of such vehicles are located at the back end. 
"Mercedes Tourismos from 2010 and 2011 have a fuel tank at the front, just in front or just behind the wheels," he said.
"But it's not something that could be hit first in a frontal crash."
Either way, legal experts told L'Express that temperatures in such situations could reach 750C.
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available