52 die in bus blaze in Kazakh steppes

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Regional emergency service officials initially blamed the fire on a short circuit and said the bus was overloaded, Interfax-Kazakstan news agency reported.

The bus was driving up north from Shymkent in southern Kazakhstan near the border with Uzbekistan.

On January 18, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. (Astana time, 7:30 a.m. Moscow time) a fire broke out on board a passenger Icarus bus.

The route is frequently used by migrant workers heading to Russian Federation, where many work on building sites.

The Icarus bus was traveling from Uzbekistan to Russian Federation via Kazakhstan. Only five of the 57 people on board managed to survive, the central Asian nation's emergency services ministry said in a statement.

The bus driver said the fire spread through the bus extremely quickly.

More news: Snow, wind chills forecast for Clayton County

Video footage also showed it positioned diagonally across a two-lane road in the middle of a snow-covered steppe, in flames and emitting heavy black smoke.

A photograph posted online from the site showed the bus completely burnt out.

Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement its embassy staff were en route to the area.

The ministry said the vehicle was a Hungarian-made Ikarus.

The accident is one of the deadliest in the last five years, with the worst toll in Afghanistan in 2016 when two buses collided with an oil tanker, killing at least 73 people.

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