Kazakhstan: 52 killed after bus catches fire in Aktau region

Kazakhstan

The tragedy happened near the village of Kalybai in the northern Aktobe region, the Emergencies Department of the former Soviet nation in Central Asia said.

He said the two bus drivers were among those who died in the inferno.

Emergency officials in Kazakhstan have reported that at least 52 people were killed on January 18 after a bus burst into flames on the highway running north to south from Uzbekistan to Russian Federation. Five people managed to escape the blaze.

He said the fire spread through the bus extremely quickly.

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Two of the survivors suffered burns to their hands, emergency services officials told AFP, while others suffered minor injuries.

Regional emergency service officials initially blamed the fire on a short circuit and said the bus was overloaded, Interfax-Kazakstan news agency 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.

The ministry said the vehicle was a Hungarian-made Ikarus.

Last October, another Kazakh-operated bus carrying over 50 Uzbeks was hit by a train in Russian Federation after getting stuck on the tracks; 17 people died in that accident.

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