Bus fire in southern India leaves seven dead

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At least seven people have been killed after a luxury bus they were travelling in caught fire in India's southern state of Karnataka, police said.

The bus, carrying more than 40 passengers, was travelling from Bangalore to Mumbai city, when the incident happened early on Thursday.

Most of the passengers and the driver of the bus managed to escape.

Police say a collision with a road divider ignited the fuel tank of the vehicle.

Last month at least 42 people died in a similar incident after the luxury bus they were travelling in caught fire in Andhra Pradesh. The bus hit a culvert and its fuel tank exploded.

Most of the passengers were sleeping when Thursday's incident happened in Haveri district.

Police said many passengers broke the windows and escaped, along with the driver and his assistant.

Three passengers were burnt to death, while four others died later, reports say.

In 2008, more than 60 people died in a bus fire in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

The fire started when part of a faulty axle dropped on to the road and ruptured the bus's fuel tank.

More than 130,000 people died in road accidents in India in 2011, according to the government's National Crime Records Bureau.

Correspondents say that bus crashes are common in the country and often caused by poorly maintained vehicles, overloading and reckless driving.

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