A bus carrying 20 passengers plunged into a river in St Petersburg killing at least seven people, Russian media reports, with horrifying footage showing the moment it smashed into a car and spun off the bridge.

The out of control vehicle was seen swerving wildly along the road, slamming into oncoming traffic before crashing through the bridge’s fence and falling into the Moika River.

Stunned passersby ran over as the number 262 bus became submerged, with only its roof visible above the water.

Emergency services rushed to the scene and carried out a rapid rescue operation. Six people are said to have been hospitalised and the death toll currently stands at seven, though reported figures vary.

The driver is reported to have been arrested and taken for questioning by police, with authorities saying they are still trying to establish what happened. 

The bus smashed through the bridge's barrier and plunged into the river, footage shows

The bus smashed through the bridge’s barrier and plunged into the river, footage shows

Stunned passersby ran over as the bus became submerged, with only its roof visible above the water

Stunned passersby ran over as the bus became submerged, with only its roof visible above the water

Searches of the river are said to be ongoing after this morning's crash, with the bus remaining submerged

Searches of the river are said to be ongoing after this morning’s crash, with the bus remaining submerged

Brave locals were seen jumping into the river and standing on the roof of the bus as they tried to haul victims out of the sinking vehicle.

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Bystanders threw them lifebuoy rings to help in the rescue effort, while a passing boat also pulled up nearby.

It is believed that eight people were pulled out alive through the hatch in the roof of the bus by rescuers.

Another ten got out on their own and then were collected by rescue boats in the Moika River, according to reports.

Reports said the driver was among those who escaped and he was immediately detained, with a criminal case opened. 

Russian media reported that no one was left on the bus after the lightning speed rescue operation. Despite this, searches of the river remain ongoing.

Authorities did not say how many people were on board, but Russian media citing witnesses reported there were about 20 passengers.

Witnesses suggested that the bus was faulty, causing the crash. It hit an SUV before plunging in the river, according to reports.

The vehicle was seen swerving wildly along the road, slamming into oncoming traffic before falling into the river

The vehicle was seen swerving wildly along the road, slamming into oncoming traffic before falling into the river

Governor of St Petersburg Alexander Beglov said that a multi-agency operation was underway which he was coordinating personally.

He added that the victims of the crash were being provided with ‘prompt assistance’.

The city’s transport committee reported that the driver of the bus lost control when turning from Bolshaya Morskaya Street to Potseluev ‘Kissing’ Bridge.

‘The bus turned around, it broke through the fence and fell into the water. Emergency Situations Ministry employees and an ambulance are working at the scene,’ it said.

Crowds watched on as rescuers continued to search the river following the horror crash

Crowds watched on as rescuers continued to search the river following the horror crash

‘Representatives of the carrier and the leadership of the transport committee have also been sent to the scene. All victims will be provided with the necessary assistance.’

A witness said they saw the bus swerve before the collision. ‘He started hitting cars that were parked. Everything happened quickly,’ the man said of the driver.

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A student called Mikhail said: ‘I saw the moment the bus hit the car, it spun around and it began to fall.

‘The bus went sideways, smashed the curb, smashed a fence and fell sideways.’

Another witness said: ‘The driver of the bus, when turning from Bolshaya Morskaya Street to Potseluyev Bridge, lost control, the bus spun around, it broke through the fence and fell into the water.’

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