At LEAST 41 people were killed yesterday when a goods locomotive hit a commuter bus at a railway crossing in Ukraine - the worst road traffic accident since the former Soviet republic gained independence.
The bus, carrying 51 people including the driver, was struck as it went over a level crossing near the small town of Marhanets in eastern Ukraine at around 9am.
Ukrainian transport minister, Kostyantyn Yefimenko, said the driver, who was killed, had driven forward on to the track even though passengers were warning him of flashing alarm lights.
The bus was thrust 100 feet along the track by the impact and its crumpled hulk remained under the front of the locomotive for hours after the accident.
The Emergencies Ministry said 41 people, three of them children, had died. Officials said the toll could rise since some survivors had very bad injuries.
President Viktor Yanukovich visited the disaster scene and later met some of the survivors in a hospital.
In televised remarks, he said Ukraine needed to strengthen its laws related to the responsibility of drivers of public transport.
Mr Yefimenko said that the driver had at first stopped the bus and got out.
He said the driver then got into the bus and drove "right in front of the locomotive", adding: "Surviving passengers said they signalled to the driver that alarm lights were flashing."
Traffic police said the accident was the worst on the roads in terms of victims since Ukraine became independent in 1991.