52 dead after bus catches fire in Kazakhstan

The fire spread very quickly gutting the bus and killing 52 of the 57 people on board Kazakh officials said

According to the emergency ministry of Kazakhstan, 55 passengers and two drivers were on board the bus when it caught fire.

January 18: A bus burns on a road in near the village of Kalybai in Kazakhstan.

Preliminary information suggested all of the victims were citizens of neighbouring Uzbekistan, officials said.

At least 52 people have died in a bus fire in Kazakhstan when flames engulfed the vehicle as it travelled along a major highway.

Uzbekistan's foreign ministry said embassy staff were on the way to the area.

'Five passengers received medical assistance.

It is not yet clear who was travelling on the bus or where they were from, according to Tass.

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Kazakhstan's latest official statement said the bus could carry up to 59 passengers.

Ministry representative Imankulov did not confirm this however, saying: "It's too early to talk about the reasons for the fire".

Panic broke out on board the bus, hindering evacuation, while survivors managed to climb through a door and window, local media reported. Video footage also posted on the Web showed it positioned diagonally across a two-lane freeway in the middle of a snow-covered steppe, in flames and emitting heavy black smoke.

A photograph taken later showed the blackened vehicle.

These buses are still widely used in ex-Soviet nations, even though they are often decades old.

Last October, a Kazakh operated bus became stuck on railway tracks in Russian Federation and was hit by a train, killing 17 of the 50 people on board.

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