Alps coach crash: Driver killed and several passengers injured
A driver has been killed and three passengers seriously injured after a coach carrying Britons crashed in the French Alps and burst into flames.
The crash happened at about 1345 local time, near the Alpe d'Huez resort.
The coach had been hired by Brighton company Skibound - which organises ski trips for schools - and was carrying seasonal staff back to the UK.
It crashed as it travelled down a steep mountain road, which features 21 hairpin bends, 65km from Grenoble.
The road regularly features in the Tour de France cycling race.Ski season end
The 51 passengers - who were all aged around 25 - were on their way home from Alpe d'Huez after finishing their ski season working for Skibound in various resorts across the French Alps.
Two drivers working for a UK operator, TGM - which is based in County Durham - were also onboard.
"The bus was going down. The driver had time to warn passengers that he had a problem. He bumped into a parapet and the bus caught fire," said Jean Rampon, who heads the office of the prefect of Isere, the department where Alpe d'Huez is located.
Rescuers said some passengers who were trapped after the crash managed to free themselves from the wreckage, while others were rescued by the emergency services.
The most seriously injured were taken to hospital by helicopter.
End Quote Skibound statement
A special assistance team from Skibound is in place to provide support to those affected by the incident”
UK coach operator TGM confirmed that one of its Classic Coach chartered services was involved.
Managing director Heath Williams said the firm was "shocked" by the accident.
He said it was too early to say what caused the accident, and the firm was awaiting official confirmation relating to those involved, but said it had launched a full investigation and was working closely with the local authorities.
"We are offering our full support to the families of our drivers and to all those passengers who were involved in this tragic incident," he added.
Skibound said it had been informed that one person had been taken by air ambulance to the local hospital.
"All other passengers are accounted for and are being treated in local hospitals or have been evacuated to a village close by," it said.
"A special assistance team from Skibound is in place to provide support to those affected by the incident."
The Foreign Office said it was aware of a "tragic incident involving British nationals" in the Isere region.
"We are in touch with the local authorities and are providing consular assistance," a spokeswoman said.
- An emergency telephone line has been set up by Skibound for relatives and friends to call. The number is 01273 244 650