At least 38 people have been killed and 28 injured in southern Afghanistan after a bus collided with a fuel tanker and burst into flames, causing a massive explosion, local officials said on Sunday.
The incident took place on a major highway connecting the southern province of Kandahar with the capital city Kabul.
"The passenger bus was on its way from Kandahar to Kabul when it collided with a fuel tanker in Jildak area of Zabul," provincial governor Bismillah Afghanmal told Agence France Presse.
Ghulam Jilani Farahi, deputy police chief of Zabul Province where the accident took place, said authorities could identify only six bodies and that the rest were burned beyond recognition.
Farahi said several women and children were among the victims in the bus that was carrying more than 60 people.
Some of the injured were rushed to hospitals in the provincial capital Qalat as well as in neighbouring Kandahar Province, Farahi told AFP.
The driver of the oil tanker and a co-passenger died immediately after the truck burst into flames during the early morning hours of Sunday.
"President Ashraf Ghani expressed deep sadness over the death of our countrymen in the accident," the presidential palace said in a statement.
"Ghani has ordered the relevant authorities to help the victims and their families as soon as possible," it added.
The Kabul-Kandahar highway passes through areas prone to militancy and many drivers are known to drive at high speeds to avoid any militant activity.
Afghanistan has some of the world's most dangerous roads, often in poor condition, and traffic rules are rarely enforced.
Many in the country rely on old and broken down passenger vehicles and road accidents with high casualty rates are common.
In May, 73 people were killed when two buses and an oil tanker burst into flames in a head-on collision in the eastern province of Ghazni.
And in April 2013 a bus hit a wrecked fuel tanker in the southern province of Kandahar, killing 45 people.
The World Bank last November signed off on a $250 million grant to upgrade roads crossing Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains – crucial trade links that are often closed in winter by snow.