Reports are surfacing that many passengers were trapped by flames which engulfed the bus.

Sixteen people are dead after a bus carrying school children home from France crashed in Italy, police have confirmed. Thirty-nine people survived.

The bus went off the road near a highway exit close to the city of Verona overnight.

So far, police say 16 badly burned bodies have been pulled from the wreckage.

Hungary's foreign ministry said that 54 people were officially thought to be on board, but that the actual number could be higher.

Gabor Toth, principal of the Szinyei Merse secondary school, said that 17 psychologists had been recruited to help the students who had been in the crash as well as their classmates in Budapest. Of the 39 survivors, 26 were injured, some seriously, Mr Lacquaniti said.

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The bus driver, a French national, could be among the victims.

Talking about the crash he said that the driver collided with the guard rail and then the overpass support.

Survivors also spoke of a student who saved lives by running up and down the aisle of the bus, breaking the windows with an emergency hammer. According to the broadcaster the truck driver stayed at the scene trying to assist until investigators arrived at the scene.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences and sympathy to the victims and their families.

The owner of the bus company told the MTI news agency on Sunday that the Setra 317 GT-HD bus was in good condition before the trip.

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