The passenger bus attempted to cross the track, ignoring warning of an approaching train, reports say [AFP] 

At least 42 people, including two children, have been killed in a collision between a train and a small passenger bus in eastern Ukraine, officials say.

Tuesday's accident occurred at about 0830 local time (05:30 GMT) in the town of Ordzhonikidze, in the Dnipropetrovsk region, police said.

The bus attempted to cross the track, ignoring a siren that indicated an oncoming train, according to local railway officials. 

"A tragic event occurred this morning ... According to preliminary data, about 40 people have been killed," Mykola Azarov, the prime minister, said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

'Utter carnage'

Rescuers and investigators are working at the scene of the crash, they said.

"The driver of the bus broke traffic laws by driving through a red light before colliding with the train," Lyudmila Bashmakova, a spokeswoman for the regional traffic police, said.

The interior ministry said that according to witnesses, "the motor of the bus stopped at the level crossing as the driver was changing gears".

Ukrainian police said in a statement that the bus, carrying 49 passengers and a driver, was travelling from a hospital in Marhanets to another nearby town, Gorodishche.

Television footage showed the bodies of victims laid out under blankets alongside the track and the mangled wreckage of the bus in front of the train.

"It's utter carnage there," Bashmakova said.

Viktor Yanukovich, the president, who on a visit to the region at the time, declared Wednesday a day of national mourning and the government said that victims of the dead would be paid about $12,600.

"The head of state has ordered law enforcement agencies to carry out a detailed investigation to establish those responsible for the accident," a statement on the presidential website said.

Polish crash

Meanwhile a separate crash in Poland has left 17 people dead.

A bus carrying farm workers collided with a lorry near the town of Nowe Miasto nad Pilica, around 80km south of the capital Warsaw, shortly after 6:00am local time (07:00 GMT) on Tuesday, police said.

The bus was carrying seasonal workers when it hit a lorry, according to the police [AFP]

"Sixteen people died on the scene while another died after he was taken to hospital," Tadeusz Kaczmarek, a local police spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Magdalena Siczek-Zalewska, another spokeswoman for the regional police, told The Associated Press news agency that the bus was carrying seasonal workers to work in an orchard in one of Poland's best known apple and plum regions.

The bus was carrying 18 people, many more than its capacity, she said.

The passengers were reportedly not wearing seatbelts and were sitting on crates.

The vehicle apparently swerved into the opposite lane and collided with the lorry, but police are investigating the exact cause of the crash, Siczek-Zalewska said.

Source: Agencies