Britons injured in Alps coach crash

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The Independent Online

Around 45 British people were caught up in a coach crash in the French Alps today, the Foreign Office said.

At least one Briton was seriously injured in the accident between La Grave and Mizoens in the early hours of this morning, a spokesman said.

Three others were less seriously hurt, the Foreign Office added.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the crash happened on the border of the Isere and Hautes-Alpes departments.

The road from Grenoble, following the Romanche valley, gives access to some of France's best known skiing resorts, including Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d'Huez.

Nearby, the road crosses the Col du Lautaret, at 6,752ft (2,058m).

In July 1997, three children from Bolton, Lancashire, on a school trip to France, were killed when their coach left a narrow mountain road in the Alps.

Their vehicle plunged into a ravine near Albertville, north-west of Grenoble.

The Foreign Office said the passenger with serious injuries was male, although no other details were immediately available.

A spokesman for the Gendarmerie Nationale in Grenoble said he understood that all of those injured were adults.

He said the bus had been taking a group of tourists towards the airport in Grenoble to return to the UK when the accident happened at around 6.30am local time (5.30am GMT).

He added that there had been snow on the ground and the coach had apparently skidded but had not left the road.

No other vehicles are thought to have been involved but investigations are continuing.

The other passengers were taken on towards the airport in two other coaches while the injured were treated - three in Grenoble and one in nearby Briancon, he said.

But a Foreign Office spokesman said he understood that the three casualties with less serious injuries had been treated either at the roadside or in a community centre.

The passengers had been travelling with SkiPlan, a Brighton-based tour operator specialising in ski schools.

The company's website offers packages to popular resorts in the area of the accident, including Alpe d'Huez and Les Deux Alpes among others.

Director Patricia Couchman said: "A party travelling with SkiPlan were involved in an accident when the coach transferring the group from resort to Grenoble Airport hit black ice and collided with the barrier.

"The accident happened at approximately 5.30am local time this morning.

"Our best information at the moment is one adult is in hospital with serious injuries.

"Two other adults were treated in hospital for suspected injuries but have been cleared by the hospital and are on their way back to the airport to travel home with the rest of the group.

"All other party members were fit to travel home.

"They have been transferred to another coach and have arrived at Grenoble Airport, where they have checked in to return to the UK on the original flight which has been delayed to accommodate them."