BEIJING, Aug 26: At least 36 people died in a collision between a methanol tanker and a double-decker sleeper bus on a motorway in northern China on Sunday, state media said.
Local police initially said 28 people were killed when the two vehicles caught fire following the collision, which happened about 2:00 am at Yanan city in Shaanxi province, Xinhua reported.
But just three of the 39 passengers onboard the bus appeared to have survived the accident, the news agency added.
Two of the people who survived were taken to hospital. A total of 36 bodies were pulled from the debris.
Details of the crash -- which happened 200 metres (218 yards) from a motorway service station -- were still unclear.
However, it appeared that the 39-seat bus was full when the accident happened.
Police were investigating the cause of the accident which happened on the Baotou-Maoming Expressway, a motorway which spans the length of China from the southern province of Guangdong to Inner Mongolia in the north.
China´s roads are highly dangerous, with traffic laws and safety widely flouted, and truck drivers typically overworked.
Last year more than 62,000 people died in traffic accidents, state media said, citing police figures.
Vehicles carrying explosive materials -- which must first get permission from the police before travelling on the roads in China -- are involved in many of China´s road accidents.
At least 20 people were killed in June near the southern city of Guangzhou when two trucks collided and sent petrol into a timber mill below the road, causing a massive blaze.
Buses are also commonly involved in road accidents as operators often seek to cram as many people as they can into their vehicles to maximise profits and drivers hurtle down highways.
Twenty-three people were killed and three injured in April when a bus and truck collided in the eastern province of Anhui.
Another collision between a tour bus and a truck the same month left 13 dead and 21 injured.