China highway crash
Debris is seen next to burnt vehicles after a fire and an explosion followed a traffic accident on the Hukun highway in the Shaoyang area of China’s Hunan province Saturday. Reuters/China Daily

At least 38 people were killed Saturday when a truck, filled with flammable liquid, crashed into a bus in the central Hunan province in China, causing a fresh uproar over unsafe road transportion in the country.

The double-decker bus, capable of seating about 53 people, was traveling between the eastern province of Fujian and the southwestern province of Guizhou when it crashed. The accident sparked first a fire and then an explosion on the Hukun Expressway in Hunan, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Extinguished five hours later, the fire engulfed five more vehicles on the road. The collision closely follows an accident this month that saw a school van carrying 11 people, including eight children, sink into a pond in Hunan.

The five people who were injured in Saturday's accident have been taken to a nearby hospital, Xinhua reported. It said the country’s Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Transport are continuing rescue work at the location of the wreck. China’s government has launched an investigation into the case.

The latest accident follows a Chinese court’s decision this month to jail two policemen for dereliction of duty during an accident in 2011, when a bus carrying 64 people collided with a coal truck, killing 20.

Last June, 42 people were killed in an accident when a bus caught fire during rush hours in Xiamen in the southeastern corner of the country, according to Agence France-Presse.

In 2012, another bus carrying 15 children sank into a pond in the southeastern province of Jiangxi , killing 15 children.

According to China’s transport ministry, the number of highway deaths fell to 60,000 in 2012 from 104,000 in 2003. However, a study in 2011 claimed the actual number of accidents in the country was twice the size as stated by local police, AFP said.