MOSCOW – More than 50 people have been killed in a fire in a bus in central Kazakhstan, the country’s Emergencies Ministry said Thursday.
Of the 57 people on board the bus, which was travelling between the cities of Samara and Shymkent, only five made it out alive, a spokesman for the ministry said.
The remaining 52 passengers died at the scene in the Aktobe region of Kazakhstan, he said, adding that the five survivors were receiving medical treatment in hospitals.
The bus was en route from Uzbekistan to Russia. According to preliminary information, all of the deceased were Uzbek nationals, state news agency Kazinform reported.
Those who survived were three Kazakhs and two Uzbeks, the news agency reported. Two of those Kazakhs were the vehicle’s drivers.
Authorities believe the fire was probably caused by a short circuit, Russian state media reported.
The bus’s operator did not have a license for conducting passenger transport services, and the vehicle’s safety certification had expired two years ago, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing Kazakh authorities.
A side door on the double-decker bus was blocked, preventing passengers from escaping, RIA Novosti reported.
Authorities have opened a criminal case on a charge of road safety or vehicle operation violations leading to the death of multiple people.
The charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, Kazinform reported. Kazakhstan has set up a special commission to investigate.
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