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A French motorway A39 near Dijon where the car crashed Google maps

A fatal crash on a French motorway has left three members of a British family dead. The accident occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning near the city of Dijon, in eastern France.

Two children, aged four and 10, are reported to have died instantly at the accident spot. Their father was trapped inside the car when the police arrived at the scene. He is later said to have died of a heart attack just minutes after he was pulled out of the rubble, according to The Press Association.

The exact cause of the accident is not yet known, but since the weather conditions were good, and no other vehicles were reportedly involved in the crash, investigators are looking into the possibility that the father could have fallen asleep while driving.

Another child, said to be the youngest, and the mother were severely injured and both have been rushed to an intensive care unit in Lyon. The family is assumed to have been in France on a holiday.

Witnesses have claimed that the driver lost control of the car that smashed through the barriers across the road and fell on to a slip road. While investigators are yet to ascertain the cause of the car hitting the barrier, it could have been caused by the driver falling asleep or being distracted, a French TV channel reported.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are providing assistance following a road traffic accident in France, in which three British nationals have sadly died and two others have been hospitalised. We are working closely with local authorities and supporting the families at this difficult time."

A psychological unit has also been set up near the accident scene to help those who were shocked witnessing the crash.