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56 killed in three China crashes

A commercial van has slammed into a truck in north-west China, killing nine people and bringing the overall death toll to 56 in three big accidents on the country's notoriously dangerous roads over the past two days.

The latest crash happened in Shaanxi province just after dawn, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It did not immediately give any other details.

On Sunday, 36 people were burned to death when a double-decker bus rammed into a tanker loaded with highly flammable methanol on another motorway in Shaanxi, causing both vehicles to burst into flames.

Xinhua said 39 people were on the long-distance sleeper bus when it crashed, and that only three survived. It said the survivors were admitted to hospital, but did not describe their condition.

In another accident on Sunday, Xinhua said 11 people were killed and another was seriously hurt when a van crashed into a truck in south-west China's Sichuan province.

The tanker had just returned to the motorway after a rest stop when it was apparently rear-ended by the bus at around 2.40am close to the city of Yan'an in Shaanxi, the official China News website said.

Xinhua photos showed the charred metal skeleton of the bus rammed up against the back of the tanker.

Road safety is a serious problem in China. According to Xinhua, poorly maintained roads and bad driving habits result in about 70,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries a year.

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