According to the state run Xinhua News Agency
, the accident occurred around 2 a.m. local time on Sunday. Only three of the 39 passengers aboard the bus managed to survive the crash. All received serious injuries.
Police are investigating the cause of the accident that occurred on the Baotou-Maoming Expressway. The expressway runs the length of China from the southern province of Guangdong to Inner Mongolia in the north according to Bangkok News
reports an official with the traffic police believed the high number of deaths was due to most of the passengers being asleep. Others have suggested the deaths resulted from passengers being unable to escape due to there being only one door on the bus.
The report also says it appears as if the bus ran into the tanker after it entered the expressway from a service station. Skid marks measuring 32 feet could clearly be seen on the roadway, leading investigators to believe the bus driver did see the tanker truck in it's path prior to impact.
Channel News Asia
quotes Yue Jiuxiang, a local traffic police official, as saying:
"Soon after the collision, the bus was engulfed by flames. Only the shell remains, it is not possible to see even the luggage or the passenger seats in the wreckage."
China's roads are known to be highly dangerous due to truck drivers being overworked and traffic and safety laws often being ignored. There was more then 62,00 traffic fatalities in China last year according to Yahoo News