At least 40 Bangladeshi schoolchildren have been killed after the vehicle they were in plunged over the edge of a road near the port town of Chittagong, police have said.

The accident occured at Mirresarai, about 240km south of Dhaka, the capital, on Monday.

The boys were on their way home from a football tournament when the truck crashed into a canal.

There were as many as 70 children, aged between 6 and 11, on board the bus when it crashed, Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque in Dhaka reported.

The death toll from the crash could rise, police official Iftekhar Hasan said, as rescuers feared that more bodies were trapped inside the sunken wreckage of the vehicle.

"Local television describe a chaotic scene at the [site] of the accident. Parents have come to the scene of the accident to identify the children," Haque said.

"According to several witnesses, the boys were singing and dancing on board the truck,'' said Hasan. "The truck skidded off the muddy road and turned [over] as it plunged into the canal.''

Haque said the road where the accident occured was narrow and "notorious" for accidents occuring "quite frequently".

"Many of these bus drivers who are using these highways don't have the proper training and they don't obey the traffic rules," he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies