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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 December 2005, 19:35 GMT
Pakistan wedding inferno kills 40
Emergency workers at the scene of the bus fire
The provincial leader has ordered an investigation into the explosion
At least 40 people have been killed after firecrackers exploded on a bus carrying guests back from a wedding in Lahore, eastern Pakistan.

Police said there were about 50 people on the bus. The other passengers were taken to hospital and eight are in a serious condition.

Police said many of the victims were women and children who died from suffocation as there was just one exit.

Fireworks cause many deaths in Pakistan through poor safety and storage.

"It took seconds until the bus was engulfed by flames and people hardly had any chance to rescue anyone," said Senior Superintendent Aamir Zulfikar of Lahore's North Cantonment.

Many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Local residents told AFP news agency the blast occurred after a small boy threw firecrackers from a rear window of the bus.

The chief minister of Punjab province, Chaudhry Pervez Illahi, has ordered an investigation into the explosion.

The BBC's Shahid Malik in Lahore says fireworks are very popular during the wedding season just before winter.

Many people have died in similar accidents, he says, although this is one of the worst tragedies of its kind in terms of casualties.

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