A bus full of Pakistani school children has exploded, killing 16 pupils and a teacher. The accident appears to be related to a mechanical problem with the bus.
The bus was traveling toward the children's private school in the suburbs of Gujrat on Saturday when the accident occurred. Gujrat is about 200km (120 miles) southeast of Islamabad, the capital.
Police have confirmed that 16 children were killed along with their teacher when a gas cylinder in the bus apparently ignited and exploded. The bus caught fire and was completely burned after the blast.
Seven additional children were injured and were taken to the hospital to be treated for severe burns.
"The fire erupted in the vehicle when the children were only a few kilometres from their school," said local police chief Dar Ali Khattak in an interview with the AFP news agency.
He added that the children on the bus were between five and 15 years old.
In Pakistan, it is relatively common for vehicles to run on compressed natural gas which is stored in pressurized cylinders. The cylinders are prone to exploding.
mz/ccp (Reuters, AFP, dpa)