British tourists in fatal French coach crash


A coach packed with British pensioners was involved in a massive pile-up which left at least one person dead and 39 injured on a fog-covered French motorway.

At least 28 vehicles were involved in the accident on the busy A4 road between Paris and Strasbourg, in the east of the country.

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A coach belonging to Shearings Holidays, from Wigan, was completely written off in the crash, which took place just before 9am.

Thirty-six British passengers were on board, with two drivers, when the coach collided with another vehicle around 12 miles east of the city of Metz, close to the town of Varize, in the Moselle region.

The dead person was described as a 70-year-old retired French person resident in Britain.

Eight children were among those seriously injured, added a spokesman for the Moselle Prefecture, although he believed they were in cars involved in the accident.

He said that the injured were from Britain, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxemburg.

All were treated at the scene of the crash, and then at local hospitals.

The British coach passengers are believed to have spent Saturday night in the Moselle region, before resuming their tour of France.

The British coach is believed to have been at the head of the collision, together with a Belgium coach and an HGV lorry.

A spokesman for the Moselle Prefecture said: “It appears that the fog was the reason for this accident. There was also a forest fire raging, which would have hampered visibility further.

“Two vehicles collided at the front of the line, and then other cars went flying into the back of them. They were on a very fast and busy road.”

He said that 152 firemen, 50 fire engines and 79 gendarmes were mobilised to attend the scene, which was one of “utter devastation”.

Jean-Francois Cortot, spokesman for the local gendarmerie, said: “The English coach was from Shearings Holidays, in Wigan, Lancashire.

“Those on board were driven to the Novotel hotel in Metz where they are being dealt with by representatives of the English company. Their coach has been completely destroyed.

“The Belgian coach was only lightly damaged and has carried on on its journey without any serious problems.

“All of those injured have been driven to hospitals in the region even, if they are only lightly injured.’ An official enquiry has been opened by the judicial authorities in Metz, with Saint-Avold police investigating.”

The A4 was shut in both directions immediately after the accident, but was re-opened in both directions at around 3pm.

Shearings Holidays advertise on their website as specialising in trips for the mature customer. They offer holidays throughout Europe, specialising in coach, rail, air travel, and cruises.