A vehicle heading from Romont, canton Fribourg, to Portugal for the Easter holidays crashed on Thursday night, killing its 12 passengers – all Portuguese nationals residing in Switzerland.
The accident occurred just before midnight local time in the town of Montbeugny, in the Allier region of central France.
According to French authorities, the vehicle “deviated from its route for a reason still unknown, and collided head-on with a truck coming in the opposite direction”.
The victims ranged in age between seven and 60. The driver of the vehicle, as well as the two Italian occupants of the truck, were injured but not killed.
The Portuguese ambassador in Bern confirmed on Friday that the victims of the accident were all Portuguese nationals residing in Switzerland.
It is still being investigated whether any of the victims possessed dual Swiss nationality. Nevertheless, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter expressed "his sorrow and his sympathy" to the families of victims in a statement on Friday.
The canton of Fribourg has confirmed that eight victims lived in Fribourg, while the canton of Vaud claimed an additional three as residents. The canton of the 12th victim has still not been identified.
Both cantons have also extended their condolences to the families of the victims.
'One accident too many'
The motorway where the accident occurred was France’s east-west Route 79, part of the RCEA (Centre-European Atlantic Route). The route has been given the grim nickname “road of death” by locals.
On Friday, French transportation minister Alain Vidalies said in a statement that more than €100 million (CHF109 million) had been planned to repair the more treacherous parts of the road.
"This year, this must be the road in France in which there is the most investment. It’s an area that has been known [to be in need of repair] for several years.”
But French senator and Allier council chairman Gérard Dériot said in a statement on Friday that he was “revolted” by the delays in repairing the RCEA. “It’s one accident too many,” he said.
swissinfo.ch and agencies