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Over 40 die as fire engulfs Bangladesh bus

COMILLA - AFP - Jan. 6 - At least 41 people were burned to death Saturday after fire engulfed a bus packed with migrant workers in Bangladesh, police said.

The bus, whose passengers were travelling back to the country's second city Chittagong following last week's Eid holidays, burst into flames near the eastern town of Comilla after a gas cylinder exploded.

Abdur Rashid, assistant director of Comilla fire brigade, said they had completed their search of the bus and found 41 dead bodies.

Eight people suffered burns and were being treated in hospital. Six more were uninjured except minor cuts and bruises.

"Most of the dead bodies were beyond recognition," he said.

Survivor Jyotsna Akhter, 19, a garment worker, fled for her life as flames swept through the bus within seconds of the explosion killing her mother, brother and sister.

"First there was a loud explosion and then I saw flames in the bus," she said, breaking down in tears.

"As soon as the bus caught fire, it turned over and all of a sudden there was fire everywhere. I was sitting at the front by the door so I jumped from my seat and got out," she said.

The accident happened on a busy highway near the town.

Rashid said the fire spread so quickly it would have been impossible for the passengers to have escaped.

"It seems the whole of the bus was engulfed in just minutes so they had no chance to get out," he said.

Comilla police superintendent Mohammad Shahed said survivors told police the bus had been travelling at high speed at the time of the accident.

The vehicle is thought to have been involved in a collision with an auto rickshaw immediately before the explosion.

It was not known if the bus driver was among the survivors.

Bus accidents are common in Bangladesh especially during major religious festivals when millions of people travel to their home villages to celebrate with their families.

Buses are frequently dangerously overloaded and drivers complain that they are under constant pressure to complete journeys as quickly as possible.

 

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