China: Bus fire in Henan kills dozens

Chinese state TV shows images of the burnt out wreckage of the bus

A bus has caught fire on a highway in central China, killing at least 41 people on board, state media say.

The Xinhua news agency reported that six passengers and the driver had escaped the inferno in Xinyang City, in the province of Henan.

State television said that the bus had 35 sleeper berths, suggesting it had been overcrowded.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but state TV said the bus was also carrying hazardous goods.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing says some of the survivors reportedly heard an explosion at the back of the vehicle, which started the fire.

Xinhua said a police officer had described the bodies inside the bus as "carbonised", saying they could only be identified by DNA tests.

The fire happened at 0400 local time (1000 GMT), on a section of the highway linking the capital, Beijing, to the southern city of Zhuhai.

Officials are heading to the scene of fire from Beijing to begin an investigation.

China has a poor road safety record - in 2009, almost 70,000 people died in road accidents.

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