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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fiery French Alps Bus Crash Kills 26, Seriously Injures 14

GRENOBLE, France -- A bus transporting Polish pilgrims from a holy site in the French Alps plunged off a steep mountain road, crashed into a river bank and burst into flames Sunday, killing 26 people, authorities said.

Another 14 people were seriously injured in the accident, which occurred at about 9:30 a.m. near the village of Vizille, not far from Grenoble, officials from the prefecture of the Isere region said.

Several others suffered minor injuries in the crash, as well.

There were conflicting reports of exactly how many people were on board, but it was believed to be at least 50.

The bus plowed through a barrier and plunged about 20 meters onto the banks of the Romanche, firefighters said.

Residents of Notre-Dame-de-Mesage, a town near the site, said the bus missed a 90-degree bend in the steep mountain road. They said the bus burst into flames and was destroyed in the blaze.

A handful of missing passengers may have been thrown out of the bus and into the river, firefighters said. Crews were searching the river by helicopter and boat.

The pilgrims were returning from the shrine of Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette, about 40 kilometers south of Grenoble.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his condolences to his Polish counterpart, Lech Kaczynski, in a letter Sunday.

"During this ordeal, you have the solidarity of the French people," Sarkozy said. The two leaders spoke by telephone following the crash, Sarkozy's office said.