(CNN) -- At least 36 people died when a tanker carrying methanol collided with a passenger bus early Sunday morning in northern China, state media reported.
Three others were injured in the crash in Yan'an city in Shaanxi province, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Only the three survived the accident, two of whom suffered serious burns.
Rescue efforts were hindered by the large fire triggered by the crash that engulfed both vehicles.
"After arriving at the scene, we found that the fire was very big, and the methanol that leaked from the tanker was keeping running to the bus and nearby drainage, forming a 'running fire' that hampered our rescue," Wei Chaoyang, director of the fire brigade, told Xinhua.
The bus was en route from Hohhot to Xian when the crash occurred in the early morning hours while passengers were sleeping.
"It was like an explosion, and I was hardly able to breathe due to the shocking wave and not aware what had happened," passenger Wang Xianze, one of the three survivors, told Xinhua.
"After regaining my consciousness, I fumbled about with my body and head and found I was not injured. So I opened the window by my side and jumped out," he said.
In a separate incident Sunday, a van carrying 12 people collided with a truck in Sichuan province, killing 10 and injuring two, according to Xinhua.