EL-ARISH, Egypt - A speeding bus carrying dozens of Canadian and European tourists overturned and caught fire today on a desert highway in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, killing at least nine passengers and wounding 28, including two Canadians.

Dr. Said Issa of the emergency services in the Sinai, says the bus was carrying around 40 tourists, mostly from Canada, Britain, Italy and Eastern Europe from the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheik to Cairo.

It overturned at a sharp curve in the highway at Abu Zenima, an area about 70 kilometres southeast of the Suez Canal, and then a fire swept through the bus.

Egypt's state news agency, MENA, says the dead bodies were transferred to a local clinic, but wounded survivors were rushed back to a larger hospital in Sharm el-Sheik.

Many of the wounded were severely burned. A security official says the wounded were: 13 Russians, four Britons, two Canadians, two Italians, two Romanians, one Ukrainian and four Egyptians.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

The four locals included two policemen providing security on the bus, officials said.

Ali Haridi, an Egyptian who was sitting near the driver when the accident occurred, said the bus flipped and he was so disoriented "I couldn't tell where the driver was."

Haridi, who suffered some burns and cuts, spoke by cell phone from an ambulance that he said was carrying several injured tourists, including a woman whose hand had been severed and another who was severely burned.

Egyptian roads see frequent accidents because of speeding, careless driving and poor road conditions. At least 8,000 people were killed in accidents in 2006, the most recent statistics available.

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