Bamako: More than 20 people have died and 16 have been badly injured in a head-on crash Tuesday between a minibus and a lorry in Mali, the government said.

“A serious traffic accident occurred between a minibus and a lorry carrying sand” about 50 kilometres east of the capital Bamako, a statement said.

An “initial toll” put the number of dead at 23, with 16 people seriously injured, it said.

“According to initial accounts, a tyre on the minibus blew out, causing the vehicle to swerve into the path of the lorry coming the other way. The head-on collision was very violent,” the government added.

It offered its condolences and reminded transport operators to follow the rules of the road and maintain their vehicles properly.

“The shock was so violent that there is nothing left of the minibus... several people are in hospital, hanging between life and death,” said a Mali Red Cross worker, Oumar Sylla.