Austrian Alps
A French tourist prevented a bus from falling into a deep ravine after the driver collapsed while driving through the mountains of Tyrolean Alps - File photo Getty Images

A French tourist is being hailed as a hero for saving the lives of more than 20 passengers of a bus travelling through the mountains in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria.

The driver of the bus collapsed while the vehicle was climbing the steep slopes. The bus was minutes away from falling into a 100metre deep ravine when the man applied brakes and averted the accident on Saturday (23 September).

Some passengers sustained minor injuries when the bus crashed into a barrier at the side of the road before coming to a stop at the edge of a cliff. The injured were taken to a nearby hospital, police said.

Local media reports suggested that the 65-year-old Frenchman was sitting close to the driver, aged 76, when he collapsed and the bus went out of his control. The Frenchman immediately leapt to the driver's side and applied brakes to stop the vehicle.

The incident took place near the city of Schwaz in western Austria, the BBC wrote. The city falls in the Austrian state of Tyrol.

"We were a hair's breadth from catastrophe," a local police spokesman told AFP news agency. He added that it was "incredible luck" that the Frenchman's reflexes helped stop the bus and prevent the accident.

The steep slopes of the picturesque region have been the site of several accidents in the past. Nearly five tourists were killed in an accident in 2004 when a bus veered off road and fell down a 30m embankment near the village of Bad Dürrnberg, south of Salzburg.