The team were travelling to play Semassi Sokode in the Togo top division [EPA]

At least six leading Togo footballers have been killed after a bus carrying them plunged into a ravine and caught fire, officials from the West African nation have said.

The accident took place on Saturday near the city of Atakpame, 160km north of the capital, Lome, as the Etoile Filante Shooting Star team was travelling to a match.

In a statement read on national television, the Togo government said President Faure Gnassingbe had ordered that those injured from the football club be taken to the military wing of the Lome Central Hospital to receive urgent medical attention.

The incident, in which 28 people were critically injured, is believed to have occured after a tyre burst, causing the bus to topple into the ravine. 

"We do not know how we managed to get out of the accident," said one of the survivors, goalkeeper Mama Souleyman.

The Lome-based Etoile Filante is a seven-time Togo national league champion and was runner-up in Africa's continental club competition in 1968.

Last year, two members of the Togo national football squad, and an Angolan bus driver, were killed after the team bus was attacked by separatist rebels in Angola.

In 2007, Togo Sports Minister Richard Attipoe was among 22 people who died when a helicopter carrying Togolese football fans and officials crashed in Sierra Leone after an African Cup qualifying match.

Source: Agencies