Pilgrims die in French coach crash

Coach carrying scores of Polish pilgrims plunges down a ravine near Grenoble.

    The vehicle smashed through a safety barrier and hurtled onto the banks of the river below [Reuters]

    The coach smashed through the safety barrier on the side of the road and hurtled 40m onto the banks of the river Romanche below.
     
    It burst into flames as it came to rest beside the river and was gutted by fire.
     
    River search
     
    Local people tried to put out the blaze with buckets of water.
     
    A large number of rescue workers arrived after the local governor's office activated an emergency plan.
     
    The injured were shuttled to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter.
    Divers searched for victims who may have been thrown into the river.
     
    Most of those on board the bus were elderly and came from the Szczecin region of northeast Poland, officials in Warsaw said.
     
    They were on a tour of European Roman Catholic shrines and had spent the night at Notre Dame de la Salette.
     
    Robert Szaniawski, a Polish foreign ministry spokesman, said the ministry had set up a telephone hotline for families.
     
    Accident blackspot
     
    Szaniawski said: "They left Poland on July 10 and were on their way back."
     
    The office of Francois Fillon, the French prime minister, said he was due to visit the scene during the day.
     
    The RN85 road from Gap to Grenoble has been the scene of many accidents over the years.
     
    Three coach crashes occured at exactly the same spot in the 1970s causing 77 deaths.
     
    Investigators were likely to concentrate on the condition of the Polish coach.
     
    The descent is only authorised for use by buses if they are equipped with electronic braking.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.