UK & World News
Colombia Bus Fire Leaves 31 Children Dead
More than 30 children have died in Colombia after a fire tore through a bus that had broken down returning from a church event.
While 18 people managed to escape the blaze, 31 youngsters and one adult died in the tragedy in the town of Fundacion.
The charred bodies of the victims had to be identified using dental records, said Mayor Eduardo Velez, coordinator of Magdalena province's emergency response corps.
He said: "There was a canister of gasoline inside the vehicle. The fire spread very fast."
Local officials said the bus was overcrowded - it was rated to carry only 38 passengers, but was carrying around 50.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire, thought to have been started when the driver tried to get the bus going by pouring fuel into the engine which he accessed through the floor of the cabin.
The driver escaped unharmed and was being questioned by police.
One witness described the scene as "hell".
Jose Angel Fuentes said: "There was a young man who was rescuing several girls. A girl reached her arms out to him, but the blaze that was coming out of the bus didn't allow the man to remove the girl, and he had to back up.
"And there were some boys who were hitting the windows, hitting with their heads, and everyone running to the back. It was tremendous, it was huge. It was practically hell that we experienced here."
President Juan Manuel Santos was travelling to Fundacion to console relatives of the victims.
He said: "There was a bus accident in the Magdalena department, in Fundacion, a bus that was filled with parishioners of the Pentecostal Church.
"I would like for you all to join me for a minute of silence for them in a show of our solidarity that we have with these types of unfortunate events."
The vehicle, owned by a private transport company, was usually used during the week as a school bus.