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MEXICO CITY — About 20 people died Wednesday in a fiery freeway accident involving a bus and a tractor-trailer in the Mexican state of Veracruz, according to the authorities and local news outlets.

The accident occurred on a principal highway between the cities of Puebla and Orizaba.

The bus was traveling east and carrying members of a Roman Catholic archdiocese in the southern state of Chiapas when its brakes failed and it slammed into a tractor-trailer, flipped over and burst into flames, local news media reported.

Guadalupe Osorno Maldonado, the secretary for Civil Protection in the state of Veracruz, told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that it appeared that 21 people were killed in the accident and that dozens had been injured. The Civil Protection office said that the death toll was not yet final.

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