PARIS: A 4-year-old British girl hid for eight hours beneath the bodies of slain family members in the back of their car before she was discovered by French investigators who had been guarding the vehicle, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Three people, a man and two women, had been shot to death, as was a French cyclist whose body was found nearby.
A second girl, about 7 years old, was discovered with bullet wounds and skull fractures nearby and was hospitalized, said Annacy prosecutor, Mr Eric Maillaud.
Mr Maillaud told France Info the BMW apparently belonged to a British family vacationing at a campground on the shores of Lake Annecy, a popular Alpine retreat. The father's body was found in the front seat and the two women — along with the little girl — were in the back. The owners of the campground told investigators the victims included a British family of two parents and a grandmother
A passer-by discovered the dead cyclist and the older child, and alerted authorities around 4 p.m. Wednesday; the car was under guard until midnight, when special investigators arrived from the Paris area. Maillaud said the younger child didn't move the entire time, and no one knew she was there.
"Firefighters, technicians, doctors looked inside the car through the windows but they didn't see the little girl. The child, terrorized, never moved. She stayed beneath her mother's legs," Lt Col Benoit Vinnemann said, according to BFM-TV."
Mr Maillaud said as soon as investigators opened the door, the girl emerged, smiled and reached out her arms; she was speaking English but could not describe what had happened. She was taken into police care.
The French cyclist found dead next to the car had no ties to the British family; he was identified only after his wife reported him missing.
About 15 bullet casings were found near the car, Mr Maillaud said.
Police vehicles have barricaded the road about 3 kilometers from where the bodies were found and say searches are continuing in the surrounding forest.