Morocco bus crash: At least 33 killed in explosion after bus carrying child athletes collides with petrol tanker on desert road

Most victims were school pupils taking part in a national athletics competition

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More than 30 people have been killed in Morocco in a head-on crash between a bus carrying young athletes and a petrol tanker.

At least 33 people died when the coach collided with the tanker, causing a huge explosion that engulfed both vehicles in flames.

Eight people, the only survivors, were injured in the accident on a road between the Moroccan capital, Rabat, and Laayoune, in annexed Western Sahara.

The crash took place shortly before sunrise at 7am in the district of Chbika, near the southern desert city of Tan-Tan, local media reported.

A video posted online showed the flaming wreckage of a double-decker tour bus by the destroyed petrol tanker in the desert.

The bus was carrying young athletes and officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, who had been taking part in a national sports competition, the news site reported.

"We have many completely carbonised bodies. Authorities have been in contact with the bus company to identify the victims," said Benmane Fadli, regional director of the transportation ministry.

Les Ecos newspaper reported that the athletes were from the towns of Bouznika and from Laayoune and that celebrated runner Hassan Issengar, 31, was among the dead.

In 2013, nearly 4,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured as a result of traffic accidents in Morocco, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It advises caution on poor rural roads, which are often badly lit.

Additional reporting by agencies