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Kazakh authorities have opened a criminal case after sixteen Kyrgyz citizens were killed in a traffic accident in the Karaganda region of central Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan's Ministry for Emergencies reported that a truck collided with a mini-bus carrying Kyrgyzstan nationals early on May 8, instantly killing its driver and 14 passengers onboard.

Another passenger later died in hospital.

Kyrgyz Ambassador to Kazakhstan Esengul Omuraliev said the bus was transporting Kyrgyz workers from the southern Kyrgyz city of Bazar-Korgon to Russia.

According to reports, the bus was carrying more people than it was authorized to carry.

Investigators are also conducting a probe into why the bus reportedly drove on the opposite lane.

The truck driver and one passenger from the minibus remain in hospital in the nearby city of Balkhash.

Kazakh officials said the incident was among the country's most serious road accidents in recent years.

Based on reporting by Itar-Tass and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service