India bus fire toll rises to 63

Firozabad, India - The death toll in a bus fire in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has risen to 63, the police said.

The bus, carrying followers of a religious sect, caught fire and became "an inferno" on Tuesday, police say.

The fire started when part of a faulty axle dropped on to the road and ruptured the bus's fuel tank in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Police say that sparks from the axle -left dangling from the bottom of the bus - ignited the vehicle's fuel.

The incident happened near the town of Firozabad, 200km (125 miles) west of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh

Thirty-five passengers were rescued by people travelling in a jeep behind the bus, the police said.

A total of 33 women and 18 children were among the dead.

The passengers were part of convoy of devotees returning from a pilgrimage in Mathura.

Correspondents say that bus crashes are common in India and often caused by poorly maintained vehicles, overloading and reckless driving.