BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in northern China on Sunday sentenced a man to death for starting a bus fire in January that killed 18 people, the government said.

Flames engulfed the bus in front of a furniture store in the northern region of Ningxia, state media has previously reported. Thirty-three people were injured.

The court in regional capital Yinchuan sentenced Ma Yongping to death after finding him guilty of using an "extremely cruel form of crime", the Yinchuan government said on its official microblog.

Ma set alight two plastic bags filled with gasoline on the bus after getting involved in a personal work dispute, the government said, without explaining the connection between the bus he chose to set alight and the dispute.

Ma will appeal, the statement added.

It was not possible to reach a lawyer for him for comment.

Bus fires are not uncommon in China, where regulators have blamed some recent blazes on flawed auto design. In 2013, a bus fire blamed on a suicidal man killed 47 in the coastal city of Xiamen.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ros Russell)