At least 12 people were killed in India when a bus caught fire after hitting a truck on a highway in western India early on Saturday, an official said.
Another 43 people with serious burns were taken to a hospital in Nashik, a city in Maharashtra state, said police officer Bhagwan Adke.
Most passengers were sleeping when the bus caught fire at about 5am local time and the vehicle was completely burned, the Press Trust of India news agency said.
Some people living near the highway reached the spot but could not help as the raging fire engulfed the vehicle. The rescue work started after the fire service and police doused the blaze, Adke said.
Anguished by the bus tragedy in Nashik. My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones in this mishap. May the injured recover at the earliest. The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) October 8, 2022
Eknath Shinde, the top state elected official, said the cause of the fire is being investigated.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “anguished by the bus tragedy”.
“May the injured recover at the earliest. The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected,” Modi posted on social media.
Nashik is nearly 200 kilometres (120 miles) northeast of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra.
The incident comes days after at least 25 people were killed after a bus carrying wedding guests veered off the road and fell into a deep gorge in northern India.
The vehicle was travelling along a treacherous mountain highway in Uttarakhand state’s Pauri Garhwal district on Tuesday.
On Sunday a farm tractor trailer carrying Hindu pilgrims overturned and fell into a pond in Ghatampur in northern India’s Kanpur city, killing 26 people, most of them women and children.
More than 110,000 people are killed every year in road accidents across India, according to police. The accidents are caused by reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and ageing vehicles.
The country accounts for 11 percent of the global road death toll despite only having one percent of the world’s vehicles, according to a World Bank report released last year.
The same report estimated 150,000 car crash fatalities in India annually, or one person every four minutes.
It added that road crashes cost the Indian economy approximately $75bn each year, with medical expenses and loss of income driving many accident survivors into poverty.