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Four children killed after train cut through school bus in France crash

At least four children have died after a train sliced open a school bus in southern France.

French authorities have backtracked on an earlier statement, reducing the death toll from six children to least four after the accident.

Authorities in the Pyrenees-Orientales region said the earlier statement that six children had died was not confirmed after the horrific crash at a crossing close to the Spanish border.

Four children aged 12 or 13 died on Thursday in the collision, while 18 others and the bus driver were injured.

Philippe Vignes, the Pyrenees-Orientales chief, told BFM television that several children and the bus driver remained in a serious condition on Friday.

French authorities said all victims had been identified and their families notified.

The bus was carrying students aged 11 to 15 from the Christian Bourquin school in the village of Millas, near Perpignan in southern France.

The school opened its doors on Friday to offer counselling for grieving students and families.

Investigators were still working to determine the cause of the crash.

Mr Vignes said he could not say whether the railway barriers meant to stop vehicles from driving onto the tracks when a train is coming were open or closed.

"There are contradictory rumours," he said. "We need to be very careful."

Mr Vignes said overnight that investigators would look into reports that the batteries in the automatic train gate system had been stolen.

National railway company SNCF said the train was carrying 25 people, including passengers and crew.

It said all were accounted for and being offered counselling.

A spokeswoman added that the train normally travels at 80kph (50mph) at that location.

AP

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