At least 27 children died in Bangladesh on Monday when a truck carrying schoolboys back from a football match overturned and crashed into a muddy ditch, officials said.
The driver lost control of the vehicle, which was overladen with about 50 boys aged between 10 and 15, at Mirershorai, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the southeastern port city of Chittagong, police said.
"We can confirm the death of 27 children. The dead bodies are now in clinics," district police chief S.A. Morshed told AFP by telephone. "We will have a mass funeral later this evening."
Local district official Sayeed Kutub told AFP that many victims had drowned after being stuck under the truck when it flipped over in the waterlogged ditch by the side of the road.
"They were trapped under the sunken truck. It took us some time to turn it over. As a result, most died because of drowning in water. Six children seriously injured have been admitted in clinics," he said.
He added that the toll might increase because some badly injured children had been taken by their parents to local health centres before being counted by rescuers.
"As soon as the truck was salvaged, many parents took their children," he said.
Local police initially put the death toll at about 40, but later said they were still counting the toll.
The children were returning from a trip to watch a local football tournament at the Mirershorai Stadium.
"It was tragic scene. As we are pulling one body after another, parents and relatives could not control their emotions," Rezaul Karim, a local police officer told AFP. "Some intervened, making the rescue operation difficult."
The privately-owned ATN News television station said 32 schoolchildren were killed in total.
Road accidents are common in Bangladesh and kill thousands of people each year. Shoddy highways, poorly maintained vehicles and drivers' disregard for road safety are blamed for most fatalities.
A recent study by the Dhaka-based Accident Research Center says that more than 12,000 people die in road accidents in Bangladesh every year, making the country's highways among the deadliest in the world.