Discuss as:

4 slain in French Alps; girl, possible witness, survives

Updated at 10:48 p.m. ET: A cyclist came across a chilling scene Wednesday afternoon as he climbed a wooded road in southeastern France at the foothills of the French Alps: Three dead bodies in a BMW registered in Britain.

Nearby was the body of another cyclist, dressed in cycling gear, his bike nearby.

A slain man was seated at the BMW's steering wheel; the two dead women were in the back seats. The sole survivor was a girl – news reports dispute whether she is 8- or 10-years-old – who had been shot three times, according to Le Dauphiné Libéré. The cyclist found her in front of the car.

Norbert Falco/Le Dauphine / EPA

French Police officers cordon off the road leading to a gruesome scene where four people were shot dead near Annecy Lake, a popular tourist destination at the foothills of the French Alps. A girl survived the shooting.


The passing cyclist called "les secours" – France’s 911 – and the girl was transported by plane to Grenoble, where she was being treated. Police have secured her hospital room, officials said. Authorities believe the attack may have been the result of an attempted robbery or hijacking, the Independent reported.

 

The BMW was parked in a lot between two small villages – Chevaline and Doussard – at the upper part of Lake Annecy in the Haute Savoie region in southeastern France, news reports said. Although the region is a British tourist destination known for its hiking trails and wooded beauty, the summer crowds have dwindled.

Watch US News crime videos on NBCNews.com

Police believe the victims were shot between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. – just 10 minutes before the cyclist came upon the car. Sixty casings littered the crime scene, but a gun was not found, they said, which could rule out domestic violence as the reason for the deaths.

French authorities have contacted British officials but said they did not know the identities or nationalities of the victims.

"For right now, we cannot form a single theory," said Eric Maillaud, a public prosecutor for the Annecy region, according to Le Dauphiné. He said the discovery looked like a scene from a movie, the Scotsman reported.

The cyclist who found the bodies and the girl was in shock as he was interviewed by police, according to news reports.

The bodies will remain at the crime scene overnight, the Independent reported; autopsies will be performed in a day or two.

More world stories from NBC News:

Follow World News from NBCNews.com on Twitter and Facebook