Cigarette sets German bus ablaze, 20 dead

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Twenty people have been killed by a fire on board a bus on a German motorway set off by a passenger smoking in the toilet, police said.

In Germany’s deadliest such incident in 16 years, the coach burst into flames at 8:40 pm (1940 GMT) on Tuesday on a motorway just outside the northern city of Hanover.

The driver quickly pulled over, but in the panic to escape the inferno rapidly engulfing the bus only around a third of the mostly elderly passengers managed to get out.

Twelve people were injured, police said, several of whom were being treated for serious burns in a nearby hospital.

Police said that it was not the result of a crash with another vehicle but that it had been caused by one of the passengers smoking in the bus toilet who failed to extinguish properly his cigarette.

When smoke began pouring out of the toilet door another passenger opened it and flames shot out, setting the entire interior of the Mercedes coach in flames in seconds.

What sort of regulations about flammable materials used in passenger transport do they have in Germany? A death toll like this is unconscionable. Materials should be fire-resistant.

This bus sounds like a volcano of death waiting to explode.