France car crash kills five children in one family

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe accident happened on the A7 highway in south-west France on Monday

Five children from the same family have died after the minivan they were travelling in crashed and caught fire in Drôme in south-eastern France.

The children were aged three to 14, reports French media.

Three adults and a seven-year-old child are in hospital in a serious condition following the accident on Monday evening.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted a tribute to the family.

"I share the immense pain of the relatives of the victims. My thoughts are also with those injured and all those who support them," Mr Macron wrote.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

An investigation has been opened to establish if the incident was caused by a technical failure or lack of vehicle maintenance, according to French media.

At least 53 firefighters attended the scene of the accident, as well as three helicopters to transfer the survivors to a hospital in Lyon for patients with severe burns, reports France Bleu.

The nine family members, from the suburbs of nearby Lyon, were travelling in a minivan intended for seven people, Valence prosecutor Alex Perrin said.

image copyrightAFP
image captionFrench Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin visited the scene on Monday

It appears that the driver lost control of the vehicle after which it rolled over three or four times and caught fire, Mr Perrin said.

The intense blaze has made identification of the deceased children difficult, he added.

Before he lost consciousness, the driver told witnesses he had had difficulty braking, the prosecutor suggested.

Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin thanked the emergency workers who attended the scene.

"Strong emotion following the terrible accident on the A7 in Drôme. My first thoughts are with the victims and those injured," Mr Darmanin wrote.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"Support and solidarity with our injured fellow citizens who are fighting for their lives," tweeted Prime Minister Jean Castex.

More stories from Europe: