France bus crash survivor: 'The fire spread like lightning'

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One of few survivors of crash that claimed 43 victims said there was 'nothing we could do' to help most people as flames engulfed bus.

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A survivor of the French bus crash that killed 43 people has told how he desperately tried to save his friends before being thrown back as “everything exploded” into flames, reports The Independent.

Jean-Claude Leonardet was among the members of a senior citizens’ club from Petit-Palais who were minutes into a day trip near Bordeaux when their coach collided with a lorry.

Mr Leonardet, 73, said he was talking with his wife Josette as they sat in the middle of the bus when they felt the impact.

In an interview with Le Parisien, he said the fire started immediately and spread “like lightning”, filling the bus with smoke and starting to melt its plastic interior within second.

He managed to undo his and his wife’s seatbelts and they ran out of the fire exit in the middle of the bus, unaware that they were among only eight people to escape.

Realising that his friends were still trapped, Mr Leonardet and a driver who had stopped at the scene to try and help went back to rescue them.

“We returned to pull out two people who fell on the steps and could not get out,” Mr Leonardet told Le Parisien. “I do not know how I did it but I it felt like my strength was increased tenfold.

“But we could not go back because the fire and smoke was engulfing everything. Everything exploded: the tires, the windows…there was nothing we could do.”

Read more of this report from The Independent.

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