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Police say up to 25 people were injured after a bus smashed through a highway fence and plunged into a roadside ditch.

At least 19 people have been killed and up to 25 were injured in Bangladesh after a bus smashed through a highway fence and plunged into a roadside ditch in Bangladesh.

The police said they suspected the driver lost control at 8am (02:00 GMT) on Sunday and hit the railing of a recently built major expressway, sending the bus, carrying more than 40 passengers, tumbling nine metres (30 feet) into the ditch.

“The death toll has risen to 19. At least 12 people were critically injured. They have been sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital in the capital,” local police chief Masud Alam told AFP news agency after the crash in the southern district of Shibchar.

The death toll could rise further as some of the injured passengers are in critical condition, said Anowar Hossain, police official of Shibchar, where the crash occurred.

The city is 80km (50 miles) from the capital Dhaka.

Road accidents are frequent in Bangladesh due to old and badly maintained vehicles and roads, as well as poorly trained drivers. Fatal road accidents have been on the rise despite the government saying it will reduce them by 50 percent by 2030.

In July last year, nearly 400 people were killed and nearly twice that number were injured in more than 300 road accidents in the two weeks around the Eid al-Adha holidays in Bangladesh.

According to the Bangladeshi passengers’ welfare association, a record 9,951 people were killed in road accidents in Bangladesh last year.