Kazakhstan bus fire kills 52

The bus was quickly engulfed in flames and only five people managed to escape

The route, which is about 2,200km (1,300 miles) long, is frequently used by Uzbek migrant labourers travelling to construction sites in Russian Federation, observers say.

Only five people managed to escape the burning vehicle, the interior ministry's emergencies department said in a statement. Five people who managed to escape are receiving medical assistance.

The accident happened at 10:30 local time on Thursday (04:30 GMT) in the Irgiz district of Aktobe region. "The rest died on the spot", the ministry said.

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

They are being treated for injuries.

The vehicle was registered in Kazakhstan, emergency services ministry official Ruslan Imankulov told AFP.

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Kenes said the "preliminary theory" of investigators about the cause of the fire was a "short circuit".

Ministry representative Imankulov did not confirm this however, saying: "It's too early to talk about the reasons for the fire". The buses are still widely used in ex-Soviet nations, even though they are often decades old.

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

He also said the Hungarian-built Ikarus bus was overloaded with passengers.

Citizens of Uzbekistan were said to be among the victims, and Russian outlet RIA Novosti reported that the bus was heading from Uzbekistan to Russia.

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