updated 1/6/2007 5:50:10 AM ET 2007-01-06T10:50:10

Around 50 people were feared killed Saturday when a bus packed with some 100 passengers crashed on a highway and caught fire southeast of the Bangladesh capital Dhaka.

Witnesses told reporters by telephone that the bus was traveling from Dhaka to Chittagong port city, carrying passengers leaving the capital ahead of a transport blockade due to begin on Sunday.

The crash occurred near Comilla town, 60 miles from Dhaka, as the bus avoided a mini-taxi coming from opposite direction, witnesses said.

The gas cylinder on the compressed natural gas-run bus exploded, triggering the fire, they said.

Police said nearly 20 charred bodies were retrieved from the bus but many bodies were still inside the vehicle.

Survivors told reporters the bus was carrying passengers both inside and on the roof.

The two-day countrywide blockade beginning on Sunday has been called by political parties boycotting parliamentary elections due on Jan. 22.

They said the shutdown was in protest against the alleged ”partisan role” of the country’s caretaker government in charge of holding the elections.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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