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Bus driver in fatal train collision charged with manslaugter

A man places a rose in front of the City Hall of Saint-Feliu-D'Avall during a ceremony on December 17, 2017 in memory of the five children killed in a collision between a train and a school bus on December 14. AFP

The driver of a school bus that was hit by a train at a level crossing in southern France, resulting in the deaths of six children, was charged Wednesday with manslaughter, a prosecutor said.

The bus driver, a 48-year-old mother who was seriously hurt in the collision, was "placed under judicial control and banned from driving," said state prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux.

At least 20 others were injured when an express train smashed into the bus carrying children home from school in the southeastern village of Millas on December 14.

The driver told investigators that the safety barriers were open at the time of the crash.

But Tarabeux on Wednesday said "material findings" in the investigation suggested the barriers were closed.

The national rail network SNCF said that the barriers had been functioning normally, though witness accounts varied.

Both the bus and train driver were given toxicology tests that came back clean.

The crash was the worst involving a school bus in France for 30 years.