Nine killed as truck slams into bus

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IOL pic apr11 California Bus Crash9 Associated Press Massive flames are seen devouring the FedEx truck and the tour bus after the crash on a highway in northern California. Picture: Jeremy Lockett

Los Angeles - A tractor-trailer slammed into a tour bus carrying high school students in northern California on Thursday, killing at least nine people and injuring 32, the California Highway Patrol said.

Fran Clader, CHP spokeswoman, said the driver of the FedEx truck lost control of the vehicle, crossed over a divider on Interstate 5 and slammed first into a car and then the tour bus.

Clader said the bus was carrying high school students and other passengers to Humboldt State University for a tour. The crash took place near the community of Orland, 150km north of Sacramento.

She said the injured were taken to hospitals in the area. Shasta Regional Medical Centre, which received two patients, said one was in stable condition while the other was undergoing testing and additional treatment.

The condition of the other 30 injured was not immediately known.

Pictures from the scene showed the bus reduced to a burned-out chassis resting sideways across the highway.

Interstate 5 was closed in both directions and was not expected to reopen until early Friday morning.

Governor Jerry Brown, in a statement issued by his office, offered condolences to relatives and friends of the dead.

“As we mourn the loss of those who died, we join all Californians in expressing our gratitude for the tireless work of the Red Cross and emergency personnel who responded bravely to this terrible tragedy,” Brown said.

Bonnie Kourvelas, a spokeswoman for FedEx, offered condolences and said the company was aware of media reports that one of its trucks was involved in the crash. The condition of the truck's driver, she said, was unknown.

“We are co-operating fully with authorities as they investigate,” she said.

Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond said students from southern California had been travelling to the college campus for a spring preview event on Friday.

“Our hearts go out to those who have been affected, and we are here to support them, and their families, in any way possible,” he said in a written statement.

The university set up an information line for family members. - Reuters

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