KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — A bus collided on Friday with the wreckage of a truck that had been attacked by Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, killing 45 people aboard the bus in a fiery crash, officials said.
The battered oil tanker had been left in the middle of a narrow road near the border of Kandahar and Helmand provinces for several days after insurgents attacked it. Police considered the area too dangerous to enter, the officials said.
Before sunrise Friday, the bus smashed into the truck and burst into flames, said Abdul Razaq, the provincial police chief of Kandahar.
Police, soldiers and ambulances rushed to the crash site in a desolate area. Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition and it will be difficult to establish their identities, Razaq said.
One survivor, Mohammad Habib, cried as he searched for his brother.
“I don’t care about my belongings and money that were burned inside the bus, but please help me find my brother, dead or alive,” he told AP Television News. “How will I face my mother without him?”
Forty-five people were killed and 10 injured, said Javeed Faisal, the spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province. He spoke to The Associated Press at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar city where many of the victims, including men, women and children, were taken.
The bus began its journey in the capital of Helmand province and was to stop in Kandahar city, then travel north to Kabul, the Afghan capital, Razaq said.
Traffic accidents are common in Afghanistan, where rules of the road are often ignored by a chaotic mix of cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians and animals. Roads outside the capital are often poorly maintained and travelers are subject to roadside bombs and highway robberies.
Last September, a bus and truck collided and burst into flames on a highway in the eastern province of Ghazni, killing at least 51 people.
Also Friday, the U.S.-led international military coalition said Afghan and foreign forces arrested about 10 insurgents in the past two days in four provinces, including several Taliban fighters in Kandahar.
AP writers Thomas Wagner and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed.