RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ A sports car driver on the road known as the ''highway of death'' lost his life and took those of 40 others Monday when he tried to pass on a curve, slammed into a bus and both vehicles plunged down a 30-foot embankment.

Another 84 people were injured in the country's worst road accident of 1993.

The accident occurred Monday morning as the bus made the 25-mile trip north from Fazenda Rio Grande to Curitiba, capital of the southern state of Parana, said police officer Walder Shultz. Curitiba is about 525 miles south of Rio.

The sports car tried to pass a vehicle on a curve and slammed into the bus. The bus swerved off the road, pushing the car ahead of it as they careened down the slope.

Officials said 36 people were dead at the scene and five others, including the bus driver, died in a hospital.

They said some of the victims died of suffocation on the bus, which was packed beyond its legal capacity. There were about 125 people aboard the vehicle. The bus company's owner, Alfredo Willy Isaak, told reporters the bus was designed to hold no more than 110.

Footage from Globo TV, the nation's largest network, showed rescue teams separating bodies on the grassy hill, as loved ones wept and hugged the dead.

The BR-116 highway, which links the southern states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, is one of Brazil's most dangerous roads.

The heavily traveled interstate, which is poorly paved and lacks road markers, is popularly known as the ''highway of death'' because of the high number of fatal auto crashes on it each year.