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Over 40 dead after bus falls off bridge and catches fire in Pakistan

Residents gather near the wreckage of a burned passenger bus in Pakistan's Baluchistan province Sunday. (Ismail Sasoli/AFP/Getty Images)
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PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Forty-one people were killed after a passenger bus fell into a ravine and burst into flames in Pakistan’s southern Baluchistan province Sunday morning, a police official said.

The vehicle was transporting 44 people when it fell off a bridge and caught fire near the town of Bela in the Lasbela district. “Forty-one burned to death,” Qamar Aziz, a police official in Lasbela, told The Washington Post via phone.

Three people onboard the bus survived the crash with injuries and were admitted to hospitals, Aziz added. There was no information immediately available on the identities of the survivors or how they were able to survive the crash and subsequent fire.

Bodies, including those of women and children, were charred beyond recognition after their recovery from the crash site, said Hamza Anjum Nadeem, assistant commissioner in Bela, according to the Associated Press. Their remains will be transported to Karachi for DNA sampling and identification, after which he said they would be returned to their families.

The bus crashed on its way from Quetta in the Baluchistan province to Karachi in the neighboring Sindh province, Aziz said.

“The accident happened due to over-speeding and the bus crashed into the pillar of a bridge,” said Nadeem, according to the Associated Press. “It caught fire soon after falling into the ravine.”

Photos show what appeared to be the vehicle’s charred chassis lying on the bed of a gorge as ambulance workers transported the bodies of the victims.

An official at the Lasbela Welfare Trust, one of the charities that deployed ambulances to the scene, said in a message posted to Facebook that rescue workers pulled bodies from the vehicle. Firetrucks and ambulances could be seen surrounding its burned remains in an accompanying video posted by the charity.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to the bereaved families,” Pakistan’s interior minister, Rana Sanaullah Khan, tweeted Sunday. “May Allah provide them with the courage to endure this loss and bless the souls of the deceased.”

In November, a van crashed during floods in Pakistan’s south, killing 20 people in the Sindh province on Indus Highway, the Associated Press reported at the time.

A 2018 World Health Organization global report on road safety stated that road traffic injuries were the leading killer of people ages 5 to 29, with people in developing countries disproportionately affected.

According to Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics, 5,608 people were killed in road accidents in 2021, the most recent year for which complete data is available. Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest yet least populated province, which shares extensive borders with Iran and Afghanistan, accounted for 318 of 2021’s road deaths, according to the same data.

Sands reported from London.