Sleeping passengers burn to death

2012-08-26 08:33
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Beijing - At least 36 people died in a fiery collision between a methanol tanker and a double-decker sleeper bus on a highway in northern China on Sunday, officials and state media said.

Both vehicles caught fire and only three of the 39 people on board the bus survived the crash, which occurred around 02:00, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 36 bodies were pulled from the debris and three people were taken to hospital.

Details of the crash - which happened 200m from a highway service station at Yanan city in Shaanxi province - were still unclear.

Yue Jiuxiang, a local traffic police official in charge of the rescue operation, said most of the passengers were asleep at the time of the crash.

"Soon after the collision, the bus was engulfed by flames," he told state-broadcaster China Central Television.

Most passengers asleep

"The front part of the bus was seriously damaged. Also most of the passengers were sleeping. This is why so many people died."

Yue said the bus was en route from Baotou in Inner Mongolia to the Shaanxi provincial capital Xian when the collision occurred.

Police were investigating the cause of the accident which happened on the Baotou-Maoming Expressway, which spans the length of China from the northern city of Baotou to the southern province of Guangdong.

An official at Yanan city government information department surnamed Liu told AFP: "The confirmed death toll is now 36. I don't have any further details."

China's roads are highly dangerous, with traffic laws and safety widely flouted, and truck drivers typically overworked.

Last year more than 62 000 people died in traffic accidents, state media said, citing police figures.

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