Bus fire kills dozens in central China

A total of 55 people were on board the bus that burst into flames after crashing in Hunan province. The driver has been detained.
A total of 55 people were on board the bus that burst into flames after crashing in Hunan province. The driver has been detained.PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • At least 35 people were killed when a large bus burst into flames after crashing into the side of a road in central China yesterday, state media said.

A total of 55 people were on board the bus which crashed in Hunan province, the official Xinhua news agency reported, suggesting casualties could rise.

The injured passengers have been sent to hospitals, Xinhua said, adding that the driver of the bus had been detained. Video posted online by state broadcaster CCTV showed thick black smoke billowing from the vehicle.

Local officials believe that an oil leak caused by the bus crashing into a roadside guard rail may have sparked the fire, Xinhua said.

Traffic accidents are common in China, with more than 250,000 people dying each year on the country's roads, according to the World Health Organisation.

Long-distance buses are popular in China as a cheap way of travelling between cities, and competition between bus firms can be fierce. China has seen repeated bus fires in recent years which have caused multiple fatalities.

At least 38 people were killed in 2014 when a van carrying inflammable liquid hit a bus on a highway in Hunan province, state media reported. In 2010 a shuttle bus carrying steel factory workers in eastern China burst into flames, killing 24 passengers.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'Bus fire kills dozens in central China'. Print Edition | Subscribe