Four teenagers were killed and seven seriously injured after a train and a school bus collided outside the town of Perpignan in southwestern France on Thursday, the interior ministry said.
TV images showed a long line of ambulance and emergency service vehicles near the crossing where the collision occurred.
Prime minister Edouard Philippe described the crash as a “terrible accident” and said on Twitter he was heading to the scene, more than 850 km (530 miles) from Paris.
Terrible accident à #Millas. Je me rends immédiatement sur place.
— Edouard Philippe (@EPhilippePM) December 14, 2017
The interior ministry said seven people in the bus, which was carrying teenagers aged between 13 to 17, were seriously injured among the 19 aboard.
An SNCF spokeswoman said the train was running at 80 kilometers an hour at the time of the accident and 25 people were on board. Three of those were slightly injured.
The reasons for the crash are not yet known, officials said.
“It was a classic crossing, well equipped and lit. Several witnesses confirmed that the barrier had come down so it worked,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the investigation would have to clarify what had happened.
France has suffered several train incidents in the past few decades. In 2013, a train derailment in central France killed at least six people.
One of the deadliest was in 1988, when a commuter trainheading into Paris’ Gare de Lyon crashed into a stationary train, killing 56 people, after its brakes failed.