Five children from the same family have died after the minibus they were traveling in crashed and caught fire in Drôme, in southwest France.
The children were between 3 and 14 years old, French media reports.
Three adults and a seven-year-old child are hospitalized in serious condition following Monday night’s accident.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted a tribute to the family.
“I share the immense pain of the relatives of the victims. My thoughts are also with the injured and all those who support them, ”wrote Mr. Macron.
An investigation has been opened to establish whether the incident was caused by a technical breakdown or a lack of maintenance of the vehicle, according to French media.
At least 53 firefighters went to the scene of the accident, as well as three helicopters to transfer the survivors to a hospital in Lyon for seriously burned patients, reports France Bleu.
The nine family members, from the neighboring Lyon suburb, were traveling in a van intended for seven people, Valence prosecutor Alex Perrin said.
It appears the driver lost control of the vehicle, after which it drove three or four times and caught fire, Perrin said.
The intense fire made it difficult to identify the deceased children, he added.
Before losing consciousness, the driver told witnesses he had difficulty braking, the prosecutor suggested.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin thanked the rescuers who went to the scene.
“Strong emotion following the terrible accident on the A7 in the Drôme. My first thoughts are with the victims and the injured, ”Mr. Darmanin wrote.
“Support and solidarity with our wounded fellow citizens who are fighting for their lives,” Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted.
More stories from Europe: