Many of the 26 school children returning from a trip to Spain smashed windows and leapt from the double-decker coach apparently in their efforts to escape the fire. Most of the injuries resulted from jumping out of windows and from cuts arising from shards of glass.
The bus was driving from the Alb-Donau-Kreis district east along the A4 when it caught fire about 600 meters from the Obersuhl exit about 10:15 am.
After the driver stopped the vehicle on the right side of the road, some occupants climbed out of smashed windows or jumped from the roof.
One of the three seriously injured children was brought to hospital by helicopter and the other two were rushed by ambulance.
It remained unclear how the fire broke out. The bus was not involved in any accident. Experts were on the scene investigating.
Police closed a stretch of the road between Wildeck-Hönebach and Obersuhl for part of Thursday.