A damaged bus being towed away after an accident during which it drove off the road attempting to avoid a collision with a vehicle driving the wrong way Image Credit: AFP

Nanterre, France: Two passengers were killed on Friday in a collision between a bus acting as a rail replacement service for French railway operator SNCF and a car, prosecutors said.

Thirty-three more passengers were wounded in the incident outside the town of Mezieres-sur-Seine northwest of Paris. All were hospitalised with five receiving emergency care.

Police initially said the bus crashed after it took evasive action from a car driving on the wrong side of the road, but prosecutors said that the circumstances still needed to be made clear.

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The driver of the car, 21, has been detained for questioning.

SNCF confirmed that the accident involved a bus acting as a temporary replacement for a rail service between Epone and Mantes-la-Jolie that was not running because of engineering work.

Transport Minister Clement Beaune, who rushed to the scene, said "it is too early to be sure but there is a risk that this was due to drink-driving".

"It is also an absolutely necessary reminder of the need for everyone to be careful and strictly respect the rules," he added, recalling that there were "every year more than 3,000 deaths on the roads" of France. Last year, 3,260 people were killed in accidents on the roads of mainland France.