Picture: Supplied

Belgrade - At least five people were killed and 26 injured when a train in Serbia ploughed into a bus carrying children to school on Friday morning, state TV RTS reported.

One of the dead was a child, and 10 other children suffered life-threatening injuries, RTS said.

The railway crossing where the crash occurred is near Nis, Serbia's third-largest city, and is secured just by a warning sign, not ramps and signalization, residents said.

The force of the impact tore the bus open and the death toll is likely to climb due to the compound injuries suffered by several passengers, RTS quoted a doctor in Nis as saying.

Serbia ranks poorly in traffic safety among European countries, with the number of fatalities per 100,000 vehicles near double the continental average - 34.5 to 19.

The main contributing factor is a general lack of driving discipline, including drunk driving, speeding and disregard for rules.

Additionally, much of the road network is in poor condition and the average age of cars in the country is 13-14 years and increasing, according to police figures.

dpa