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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Road crash kills 25 in Sri Lanka
The destroyed bus
The bus was in a head-on collsion (Pic by Gnanasiri Koththigoda)
At least 25 people were killed when a passenger bus collided with a truck carrying beer bottles in southern Sri Lanka, police said.

At last 50 passengers were also injured in the collision.

Police said the two vehicles caught fire after the collision. They said most of the victims were on the bus.

Sri Lanka has close to 25,000 buses being operated by private companies and the state transport department and bus accidents are a major problem.

News agency Reuters quoted Jayantha Gamage, deputy inspector general for Sri Lanka's southern province, as saying: "There was an accident between a passenger bus and a lorry transporting beer."

"It was a head-on crash in a bend. Both vehicles caught fire," he said.

The accident happened about 80km (50 miles) south of the capital, Colombo.

"Fifty-seven people with injuries were brought in for treatment," Jayampathy Senanayake, head of the area's main hospital, told the AFP news agency.

"A few people are in a critical condition."

Correspondents say that most of the corpses were badly charred, and officials were trying to identify the victims through clothing or personal effects.

Two years ago, Sri Lanka's government pledged to crack down on the private bus sector after a crash at a rail level crossing killed 35 people.

President Mahinda Rajapakse vowed an overhaul of bus services and tough penalties for offending drivers.

Officials say bus drivers often ignore traffic rules and race past each other.

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