, CHANGSHA, July 19 – At least 38 people are confirmed dead and another five injured after a vehicle crash triggered fire and explosion on a central China highway early Saturday morning, police said.
The accident happened at around 3 am on a section of the Hukun (Shanghai to Kunming) Expressway in Hunan Province, when a freight van loaded with flammable liquid, probably alcohol, rear ended a passenger coach capable of carrying 53 people.
A total of five vehicles were destroyed in the accident. The driver of the van and a passenger in it died at the scene, according to the provincial traffic police.
The injured have been rushed to a local hospital for emergency treatment. Exact casualties are still under investigation.
A joint task team led by senior officials with the State Administration of Work Safety, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transport is rushing to the site for rescue and investigation.
The fire has been put out as of 8am. The provincial government has ordered all-out rescue efforts, which is still under way.