(Pic courtesy Kyodo News Agency)

Fourteen people have been killed after a bus taking a group of holidaymakers to a ski resort veered off the road in central Japan.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo that 14 people were killed and 27 others were injured in the single vehicle crash in the early hours of Friday.

Suga, the government’s lead spokesman, said the transport ministry had launched an investigation into the accident and sent inspectors to the site. The nine men and five women who died included the bus’s two drivers.

According to fire and disaster management officials, the bus, carrying 41 people, veered into the opposite lane near the resort town of town of Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture, at about 2 am Friday.

The vehicle careered through a guardrail and slid about three metres down the mountainside.

TV networks showed the bus, whose middle section appeared to be bent, resting on its side against some trees.

The nature of the injuries suffered the survivors was not immediately clear but reports said 13 were seriously hurt. (The Guardian)