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School bus crossed bridge 'just before' collapse

Witness describes mother screaming for her child, who was trapped inside car that had plunged into river Tarn

A school bus had cross the suspension bridge in the Haute-Garonne department of southwest France in the minutes before it collapsed, killing a teenager, witnesses said.

As reported, the 15-year-old was killed in the bridge collapse at Mirepoix-sur-Tarn which plunged at least two vehicles - and maybe a third - into the river Tarn below. The victim's mother was one of a number of people rescued, but authorities fear that there are still several people missing.

"There was a lady on the bank, she had managed to get out of her car. She was screaming that her son was still inside," witness Eric Bonnin told the francetvinfo website.

"The school bus passed just before" the bridge failed, Mr Bonnin, who runs a restaurant that is just 50m from the bridge, added.

"I had just opened the kitchen door, when I heard a huge explosion," he said. "I thought an aeroplane had broken the sound barrier."

He described the bridge as 'very busy', and said it is frequently used by lorries that exceed the 19-tonne weight limit.

"There's a stop sign, but it doesn't matter, they go for it."

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