ANKARA: At least 17 people were killed and another 36 injured after a bus carrying illegal immigrants hit a lighting pole in eastern Turkey and burst into flames, local media reported on Friday.
The bus, which crashed late on Thursday on the Igdir-Kars highway, was carrying nationals from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Images in Turkish media showed smoke rising from the charred bus with its front smashed and migrants lying on the road with bloodied faces.
“When we arrived at the scene we found a… migrant tragedy,” Igdir province governor Enver Unlu told reporters at the scene. “We are deeply saddened that the frequent smuggling of migrants, which goes on in our province, has ended in a traffic accident.”
Health officials said some of the injured were in a serious condition.
The bus had capacity for 14 people but over 50 people including women were on board, according to Anadolu.
The Igdir public prosecutor has opened an investigation into the incident while officials sought to identify the driver.
Thirteen illegal migrants were detained by security forces inside another bus, which Anadolu said had been on the same journey as the one involved in the crash.
Road accidents are common in Turkey. Turkish state broadcaster TRT said last month that 3,530 people were killed on the roads last year.