While sources say that the death toll could be as high as 33, the air conditioned bus was confirmed to be carrying over 23 persons; none of whom have made it out alive at the time of going to press.
The bus crossed Ocheri just past 10.15 pm and the accident is expected to have occurred near Avalur at 10.45 pm.
The bus that is reportedly run by KPN Travels attempted to overtake a lorry at a high speed, and the lorry allegedly swerved to the right causing the bus to veer off the road.
The bus then smashed into a culvert there and toppled before landing on its roof. Witnesses say that when they arrived the bus was engulfed in a ball of flame after a series of small explosions.
Tags: Bus accident, Bus catches fire, Fire deaths, Vellore, Vellore accident, Vellore fire
As the area around the wreck is mostly unlit and the flames did not die down for close to an hour, no rescue operations were mounted till 11.30 pm.
Though ambulances and Deputy Superintendents of Police from Ranipet and Arakkonam arrived before them, the fire brigade reportedly arrived from Kanchipuram and began battling the flames just before midnight.
The bodies are charred beyond recognition and it will take a long time for the identification to be carried out, a source from the bus agency said.
At the time of going to press, police could not� recover any body from the wreckage, as the flames had just been put out after 45 minutes of firefighting.
Bus driver Nagarajan, who survived the accident, surrendered at the Vellore North police station. Badly injured, he was taken to Vellore Pentland Hospital by the police.