A 15-YEAR-OLD girl is in a serious condition and 17 other pupils recovering from minor injuries after their school bus collided with a train at a level crossing in the Bourgogne.
The bus was carrying about 30 children home from school when it was struck by a TER yesterday evening in Jonches, near Auxerre (Yonne).
The train, with about 100 people on board, hit the rear of the bus. None of the train passengers or its driver was injured.
Auxerre public prosecutor François Pérain said it appeared that a fight had broken out on the bus and the driver stopped suddenly to deal with it, believing the bus to be clear of the crossing.
The driver, who had worked for the bus company for five years, was taken into police custody. Drug and alcohol tests came back negative.
One of the girls at the back of the bus told reporters: "A girl cried: 'There's a train'. I turned and saw the big headlights beaming down on me. I was thrown forwards. I thought I was going to die."
A spokeswoman for the préfecture said one girl was in a serious condition and the other children were suffering from shock and minor head injuries.
Last year, 36 people were killed in level crossing collisions in France. Railway infrastructure group Reseau Ferré de France is working to install more barriers at rural level crossings instead of just warning lights, and is removing some crossings completely.