A bus fire in north-western Kazakhstan has killed 52 Uzbek citizens on a route used by migrant workers heading to Russia, the Kazakh Interior Ministry has said, according to an ABC News report.
The fire broke out near the village of Kalybai in the northern Aktobe region, the Emergencies Department of the former Soviet nation in Central Asia said.Authorities said that only five of 57 people on the bus managed to escape the blaze.They are being treated for injuries.Preliminary information suggested all of the victims were citizens of neighbouring Uzbekistan, officials said.
The route is frequently used by migrant workers heading to Russia, where many work on building sites.Of the survivors, two are citizens of Kazakhstan who were taking turns to drive the bus, and three others are from Uzbekistan.The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, but investigators suspect it was triggered by a short circuit.
A photograph posted online showed the bus had been completely burnt out. Video footage from the scene showed the bus in flames and emitting heavy black smoke.It was positioned diagonally across a two-lane freeway in the middle of a snow-covered steppe.
Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement its embassy staff were en route to the area.Last October, another Kazakh-operated bus carrying over 50 Uzbeks was hit by a train in Russia after getting stuck on the tracks, killing 17 people.