Five migrants in the US state of Florida died in a crash on Saturday after the bus they were riding ran through a red light and collided with a truck. At least one child was killed after the bus, which was carrying up to 35 Haitian migrant workers and their families, erupted into flames and obliterated the semi-truck it hit.

The smash took place in the early hours of the morning on Coastal Highway 98 in Wakulla County, a sparsely populated area near Tallahassee in the far north of the state. Twenty-four people were taken to hospital for treatment, with seven in critical condition. One man, a 21-year-old called Rafael Nieves, who had been in the truck, escaped injury according to police because they were, "asleep in the sleeper of the trailer".

The bus, a converted school bus, is now a burned-out wreck on the roadside. It caught fire after it took out a power pole, bringing down electricity wires, and power to the area has been cut off while the authorities work to remove the vehicles from the area.

The bus driver, 56-year-old Elie Dupiche, is one of those in critical condition, while the truck's driver, Gordon A Sheets, has died from his injuries.

The bus had been ferrying farm workers back home to Florida after two months of working in cornfields in Georgia.

The Wakulla County Sheriff, Charlie Creel, described the crash as "horrendous", and paid tribute to deputies who ran to the burning bus to help rescue people trapped in the wreck. He said: "If these deputies had not done that, we would have had a lot more fatalities."

"We don't know what happened to the [bus] driver," Sheriff Creel told a press conference. "He might have fallen asleep, he might not have seen the flashing red light."