More than 50 killed in fire on bus in Kazakhstan
Victims were Uzbek citizens travelling on route used by migrant workers going to Russia
A bus burns on a road near the village of Kalybai in Kazakhstan. Emergency officials say 52 people of 57 on the bus died on the fire. Photograph: Kazakhstan Ministry for Emergency Situations via AP
The bus was travelling from southern Kazakhstan to Russia’s Kazan, Kazakh officials said. The route is widely used to transport Uzbek workers to and from Russia where they often take work on building sites.
Only five people managed to escape the burning vehicle, the interior ministry’s emergencies department said in a statement.
The ministry said the apparent accident had happened at 10.30am (4.30am Irish time), but provided no details about its cause. It said senior government officials would investigate the matter.
A photograph posted online from the site showed the bus completely burnt out. Video footage also posted on the internet showed it positioned diagonally across a two-lane freeway in the middle of a snow-covered steppe, in flames and emitting heavy black smoke.
Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement its embassy staff were en route to the area, roughly midway between the Russian border and the Aral Sea.
Separately, Uzbekistan’s emergencies ministry said it was sending a plane with its own team of doctors and rescuers to the site.
Last October, another Kazakh-operated bus carrying more than 50 Uzbeks was hit by a train in Russia after getting stuck on the tracks; 17 people died in that accident. – Reuters