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Death toll in bus-truck collision in northwestern China rises to 15,

BEIJING, China - The death toll in a massive head-on collision between a truck and bus in northwestern China has risen to 15, with 48 other people being treated for injuries, the local government said Wednesday.

The casualty figure rose overnight after two bus passengers died from their injuries, according to a statement from the Guazhou county government in Gansu province. It said another of the injured remained in critical condition and five were in serious condition.

The accident occurred Tuesday when the bus crossed the centre divider of a national highway and plowed into the truck near the Gansu city of Jiuquan. Photos from the scene showed the flatbed truck loaded with what appeared to be massive steel pipes or utility poles, some of which had rolled over onto the bus.

The statement said the dead included two people in the truck and 13 passengers on the bus, which was authorized to carry 55 people but had 61 on board, including nine children. It didn't say whether the drivers had survived the accident or whether children were among those killed.

It quoted Gansu governor Liu Weiping as saying a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident would be conducted and anyone responsible for contributing to the accident would be held to account.

Such accidents are common in China, and are usually blamed on driver fatigue, speeding and poorly maintained or overloaded vehicles.

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