BEIJING, July 22, 2011 - At least 41 people died on Friday when an overcrowded bus that was carrying hazardous goods caught fire in central China, state television reported.
The fire happened early on Friday morning on a highway in Henan province, China Central Television (CCTV) said.
Five passengers and the driver were pulled out alive from the overnight bus -- made up of 35 berths allowing passengers to sleep as they made their way to Hunan province further south, according to other media reports.
The double-decker bus was overcrowded, and also had dangerous goods on board, CCTV said, although it did not provide further details.
Photos of the accident showed the bus had been completely destroyed by the blaze -- the cause of which is still being investigated -- leaving only a burnt-out shell.
A police officer told the official Xinhua news agency the fire raged for two hours, and completely destroyed victims' bodies.
A CCTV journalist wrote on his Twitter-like Weibo account that one of the survivors of the accident was very seriously injured. All have been rushed to hospital.
China's roads are among the world's most dangerous, with traffic laws and safety widely flouted.
Almost 70,000 people died in road accidents in 2009 -- around 190 fatalities a day -- according to police statistics.