A bus carrying Hungarian teenagers crashed and caught fire on a motorway in northern Italy killing 16 people, according to emergency workers.

Thirty-nine injured people were taken to hospital following the accident near Verona last night, which occurred when the vehicle smashed into a bridge pillar, according to emergency workers.

Fire engulfed the bus completely destroying the interior and reducing the vehicle to a burned-out wreck.

Some passengers were killed when they were thrown from the coach as it hit the pillar around 11pm local time, but most were found inside the burned-out vehicle.

Most of those on board were Hungarian schoolchildren aged between 14 and 18, along with teachers and parents, returning home from a trip to France.

A spokesman for Hungary's foreign ministry said the bus was carrying two drivers and 54 passengers.

A traffic police chief said no other vehicle was involved in the crash, pointing to mechanical failure or human error, such as the driver falling asleep, as the likely cause.

"We are not aware of other vehicles being involved, it seems to have gone off the road of its own accord," he said.