Around 30 people died when a bus carrying Iranians on the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage to Mecca collided with a gasoline tanker in southern Turkey on Thursday, police said.

"The lorry (truck) and the bus collided," a police official in the province of Sanliurfa told Reuters by telephone. "There are 30 dead," another security source said.Anatolian news agency said the tanker had burst into flames after the collision on the busy E-90 road leading to the Syrian border. Police later closed the road.

"Seven or eight bodies have been brought to the morgue so far. We are expecting a total of between 20 and 30," said a doctor in Birecik hospital, near the crash site.

The haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, which reaches its climax early next week, has often been marred by disaster. A fire swept through a tent camp last year killing 343 people.

Up to 2 million Muslimscrowded holy sites in Saudi Arabia on Thursday for the haj.