At least 22 children sustained burn injuries when their school bus caught fire in Panvel town in Maharashtra's Raigad district on Thursday morning, police said.
The private mini-bus was ferrying 38 children to C.K.T. High School in Panvel, nearly 60 km from Mumbai, and caught fire at about 6.50 a.m.
Many of the children, going to school after a 10-day break on account of swine flu, were trapped inside the burning bus.
"Preliminary reports indicate that the mini-bus caught fire due to a short-circuit but investigations are on," said a police official.
Hanuman Nalavade, owner and driver of the mini-bus, was detained by the police.
People from the neighbourhood managed to rescue 16 of the children unharmed, said Principal S.T. Ghadge of the C.K.T. College that is located on the same campus as the school.
Two seriously injured children were rushed to Mumbai's Masina Hospital, while two were taken to the National Burns Institute in Airoli, Navi Mumbai. The other children were treated at various local hospitals and allowed to go home,
C.K.T. School principal N.M. Jadhav told IANS that the JBSS Trust, which runs the educational institution, would bear the medical expenses of all the children involved in the accident.
The private mini-bus had been contracted by the parents to pick-up and drop the children to and from school daily.