BEIJING - A fire aboard a public bus killed 24 people and left another 44 hospitalized Friday morning in southwestern China, state media reported.

Another 10 people escaped the blaze in the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Pictures posted on blogs and Internet forums showed the bus consumed by flames. One badly burned and bloody woman was seen laying on the road with a man standing over her, his clothes burned off and his skin singed bright red.

A Web site run by the provincial government's propaganda department said 44 people were hospitalized, with 27 of those suffering severe injuries.

Neither report gave any indication of the cause of the fire, which broke out as the bus passed near the city zoo.

Chengdu city government spokesmen reached by phone refused to offer additional information.

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