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34 Injured When Low French Bridge Shears Off Top of Tour Bus

Six Spanish tourists were seriously injured when the 12-foot-tall bus tried to drive under the 8½-foot-high bridge Sunday morning.
Image: Tour bus decapitated in La Madeleine, France
A Spanish tour bus without its top inside a mini-tunnel Sunday in La Madeleine, France.Reuters

Thirty-four Spanish tourists were injured, six of them seriously, when the top of their bus was torn off by a low bridge near the French city of Lille, authorities said Monday.

French authorities said the bus driver was following GPS directions when he tried to drive the 12-foot-tall bus — which was traveling from Bilbao, Spain, to Amsterdam in the Netherlands — under the 8½-foot-high bridge Sunday in the Lille suburb of La Madeleine with 58 passengers aboard.

"We have had many vans collide [with the bridge], but this is the first time it has happened with a bus," Madeleine Deputy Mayor Christian Janssens told Agence France-Presse.

A Spanish tour bus without its top inside a mini-tunnel Sunday in La Madeleine, France.Reuters

Six passengers were reported stable with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The English-language French newspaper Connexion reported that most of the other victims were treated at and released from hospitals and spent Sunday night in a local sports center before they were returned home to Spain on Monday.

"Most people were sleeping ... and nobody understood what was happening," a passenger from Spain's Basque region who identified herself as Carlota told AFP. "All of a sudden, the roof of the tunnel was right there."

Frederic Fevre, the public prosecutor in Lille, told AFP that the 59-year-old driver had a good record and had told investigators he was following instructions provided by his GPS navigation. Authorities said alcohol and drug tests were negative.

Mictims meet relatives on arrival Monday at Bilbao's airport in Loiu in northern Spain after their tour bus was involved in a spectacular crash Sunday in northern France.Gari Garaialde / AFP - Getty Images