updated 11/16/2005 6:54:21 PM ET 2005-11-16T23:54:21

A tanker truck hauling toxic ammonium chloride slammed into a passenger bus in northwest Mexico, killing 38 people as both vehicles plunged down an embankment, police said Wednesday.

Most of the victims in Tuesday night’s crash had chemical burns, and authorities were trying to determine if the ammonium chloride contributed to their deaths, Federal Police in Mexico City said in an accident report.

The driver of the tanker, who was among the dead, apparently lost control on a curve near the city of Los Mochis in Sinaloa state, crashing into the rear of the bus.

The report said both vehicles then plunged down slopes on the side of the highway. The bus flipped onto its roof, and the tanker spilled it load of 25 tons of ammonium chloride.

Federal police and gas experts from state-run Mexican oil company Pemex have sealed off the area.

Television images showed a twisted truck lying on its side near the highway.

There was no immediate information on survivors of the crash or who owned the 1993-model tanker truck and where it was headed.

A separate accident early Wednesday on a highway between Mexico City and the central city of Queretaro killed six people and injured at least 36 others, said Luis Rivera, director of emergency response for Mexico state, which borders the capital. The crash involved a passenger bus and a cargo truck, Rivera said.

Some of the injured were in serious condition and had been transferred to a hospital, he said.

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