According to AFP, AB Volvo has strongly rejected claims that a design defective and faulty Volvo truck was to blame for a deadly fire that broke out on one of its trucks in the Mont Blanc tunnel in 1999 and left 39 people dead.

“There are hundreds of thousands of Volvo trucks on the road across the world and there are many things that can cause a truck fire,” Volvo Trucks spokesman Tommy Kohle told AFP.

Last week, a French examining magistrate placed the vehicle maker under investigation on Thursday for aggravated manslaughter over the fire at the Alpine tunnel crossing.

The AFP report says that the magistrate claimed investigations had uncovered two defects in Volvo’s FH12 truck, the model involved in the accident – one in the air intake mechanism and another in the overhead valve cover.  The magistrate has also said that the truckmaker knew of the defect on its trucks before the accident.

Volvo Trucks spokesman Kohle told AFP: “It could have been the poor installation of auxiliary equipment or poor maintenance or damage to electrical equipment after an accident.”

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The Volvo spokesman also told AFP that the company would cooperate fully with French authorities and that being investigated had not been a surprise to the company.

The driver of the truck, as well as the companies that operate the French and Italian ends of the tunnel are also under investigation.

Heavy goods vehicles were allowed through the tunnel again in May, but protests from campaigners alleging that the tunnel is not safe have continued.