No fewer than 42 people on Friday died when a bus and a lorry collided head-on and caught fire near Bordeaux , French officials, said.
It was said to be the worst road crash in French history since 33 years ago.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said that as far as he could tell, all the passengers were French and from the region. Reports said they were retirees going on an excursion.
The crash took place around 7:30 a.m. near the village of Puisseguin, close to the city of Libourne and east of Bordeaux. According to the authorities, a truck that was used to transport wood swerved at a curve on a rural road and struck a bus, causing both vehicles to burst into flames.
Xavier Sublett, the mayor of Puisseguin, told reporters that the bus driver had seen the truck approaching but was unable to avoid the collision. The driver managed to open the doors of the bus at the last minute, allowing some of the passengers to flee, Mayor Sublett said, and he survived.
President Francois Hollande, who was on a visit to Athens, said he had been “plunged into sadness by the tragedy’’.
The bus was carrying about 50 day-trippers south to the Landes region from their home in the village of Petit Palais just a few kilometres away from the crash side, officials said.
Gilles Savary, a member of parliament for the Gironde region, told newsmen that most of victims were elderly.
Road deaths in France have fallen steeply since the 1970s, according to official statistics, more than 16,000 people were killed annually in the early 1970s but in recent years the death toll has fallen below 4,000.
The Road Safety Association said the disaster was the worst road accident in France since one that killed 53 people, including 44 children, near Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, in July 1982.