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Debris is seen next to burnt vehicles after an explosion and a fire following a traffic accident, at a section of the Hukun (Shanghai to Kunming) highway in Shaoyang, Hunan province July 19, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily


BEIJING (Reuters) - Forty-three people were killed in a collision between a bus and a van carrying flammable liquids in southern China, state media reported on Saturday.

The crash in Hunan province happened in the early hours of Saturday when the van drove into the back of the passenger coach, triggering a fire and explosion, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Six people were injured, including four with severe burns. Five vehicles were destroyed, Xinhua said.

Last week, 11 people were killed, including eight children, when a school bus crashed into a reservoir in Hunan.

A series of accidents in recent years involving vehicles carrying school children have made such incidents a sensitive issue, particularly in China's rural areas where roads are often poorly maintained.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Paul Tait and Alison Williams)