A fierce blaze on board a bus sparked by an exploding fuel tank has killed at least 44 passengers in southern India, local police say.
The fire broke out early on Wednesday morning after the bus crashed into a central reservation on a highway between the cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad around 5am, Venkateshwarlu, a police spokesman, said.
“The number of dead, which includes children, is 44,” Venkateshwarlu told AFP news agency.
Pradeep, a police officer in Mehabubnagar in Andhra Pradesh state, said the driver and five other people escaped.
Mehabubnagar is more than 1,200km from New Delhi.
The driver had apparently been trying to pass another vehicle when the bus hit the roadside barrier.
India has the highest annual road death toll in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
More than 110,000 people are killed every year in road accidents across India, according to police.
Most crashes are blamed on reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and ageing vehicles.
Angry relatives gathered at both the Bangalore and Hyderabad offices of Jabbar Travels, forcing police to send officers to keep order.
Police were also searching for the company’s owners in Bangalore, the main city in the neighboring southern state of Karnataka.
India has the highest annual road death toll in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. More than 110,000 people are killed every year in road accidents across the country, according to police.
Most crashes are blamed on reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and aging vehicles.