5 Nov 2008

20 feared dead in German bus blaze

2:31 pm on 5 November 2008

Around 20 people are feared dead after a fire broke out on a bus on a motorway in northern Germany.

Motorway police said that only about 10 of the 30 passengers were able to escape after the bus burst into flames on the A2 autobahn.

The bus had been travelling to Berlin when the fire broke out, trapping some passengers, most of whom were reported to be elderly.

The cause of the fire is not yet known but some reports say the fire may have been started by a cigarette.

"Someone was smoking secretly in the toilet and that's what started the fire. It happens," said Oliver Pehl, whose mother is the owner of the coach company.

However, officials said it was too early to be sure of the cause and a technical fault could be to blame.

"It is terrible, just terrible that so many people lost their lives," Mr Pehl said.