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Eight Die in India Bus Fire

September 25, 2002

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HYDERABAD, India (AP) _ A passenger set a bus on fire early Wednesday morning, killing himself and at least seven others in southern India, police said.

At least 24 people suffered burn injuries in the incident, which occurred near the town of Kodandapuram, 110 miles south of Hyderabad, capital of southern Andhra Pradesh state.

Police in Hyderabad said the motive behind the crime was not yet known and they were awaiting details of the incident, which occurred shortly after midnight. There were no indications that it was tied to the Wednesday storming of a Hindu temple by gunmen in the western city of Gandhinagar, in which 32 people were killed.

The driver of the bus said a passenger spilled gasoline or kerosene on the floor of the bus and, as the woman sitting next to him tried to stop him, calling out for help, he struck a match and set it ablaze.

She ``screamed to stop the bus and I immediately put the brakes. But, the bus was already engulfed in the flames,″ said the driver, Ali, who goes by one name.

Most of the passengers were asleep at the time of incident. Eight people, including the passenger who caused the fire, died immediately. The others were rushed a nearby hospital, police said.

Only three passengers escaped unhurt.

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