(News.com.au): A bus carrying construction workers drove off a pier in southern Russia today, killing at least 16 people, officials said.

The bus was carrying workers who were building a pier for an oil company on the Black Sea coast not far from Crimea, Russia’s Investigative Committee declared.

Several companies are drilling for oil off the Russian Black Sea coast, AP reports.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said 41 people had been on the bus – the 16 people killed in addition to 24 others who were rescued by divers and one man who was still missing.

Eight people have been hospitalised, five of them in serious condition, emergency officials said.

The bus was carrying people from their shift building a pier for the Tamanneftegaz oil company in the Taman port when the accident happened, AFP reports.

The bus has been retrieved from the sea floor using a crane.

The bus driver is reportedly alive, and has been hospitalised with leg fractures.

Investigators didn’t immediately say why the bus drove off the pier, but local officials pointed to faulty brakes. The Tass news agency quoted the town hall of the Temryuk district as saying that the bus drove along the pier for nearly 400 metres before the brakes failed.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had launched a probe into violation of traffic rules and providing unsafe services and was looking into the technical condition of the bus.