Four children have died after a train and a school bus collided outside the town of Perpignan in southwestern France, according to the interior ministry.
The incident, in which the train, travelling at 50 miles per hour, slammed into the rear third of the bus, was the worst involving school transport in France for three decades.
A witness who was on the train, named as Barbara, said "it was a very violent crash - it seemed as if the train would derail".
The bus was reportedly cut in half following the crash.
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Nine other people on the bus had less severe injuries.
The bus was struck by the train in Millas about 18 kilometres west of the city of Perpignan, close to the Spanish border.
The train normally travels at about 80km/h at the location of the collision.
It was not immediately clear why the accident happened.
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She said the people on the train were "totally shocked". France's SNCF national rail authority said witnesses described the crossing gates as functioning properly.
In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron offered his condolences: "All my thoughts for the victims of this bad accident involving a school bus, as well as their families. The government is fully mobilised to give them emergency help".
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer will visit a counselling centre that has been set up at the Christian Bourquin College in Millas on Friday.
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