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12 killed as minibus collides with truck in France

Police are investigating the head-on collision that killed 12 Portuguese citizens returning home for Easter. The minibus swerved into oncoming traffic, and police want to know why.

Twelve people were killed in central France when the minibus they were riding in collided head-on with a truck shortly before midnight.

The minibus was traveling from Switzerland to Portugal, and all of the victims were Portuguese. They were returning home for the Easter holiday.

The driver of the minibus survived the crash and has been hospitalized. The two truck drivers were only slightly injured.

The cause of the accident is under investigation, but initial indications are that the minibus crossed the line into oncoming traffic. Whether it swerved into the oncoming lane, for no apparent reason, or was trying to pass another vehicle remains unclear.

But police say alcohol was not involved in the crash, which occurred near the town of Moulins, about 185 miles south of Paris.

The road "is quite monotonous, the speed limit is 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour. There are those who are impatient and those who fall asleep," said a judicial source, adding that there are only four passing zones in the area.

"They've been talking about adding a second lane for 40 years," he added.

A temporary morgue was set up at local village hall.

The road was closed overnight, following the accident, but was expected to reopen Friday morning.

bik/jil (AFP, dpa)