Six people killed in 25-vehicle pileup on US interstate due to dust storm
Authorities in the US state of New Mexico say six people are dead after a 25-vehicle pileup on I-10 caused by sudden blowing dust in New Mexico near the Arizona state line.
Those killed on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) included a nine-month-old girl and her parents from Phoenix, two people from El Paso, Texas, and a California woman.
The stretch of interstate in Lordsburg, New Mexico, was closed for several hours following crash. The closure extended through to Willcox, Arizona, where local authorities helped manage traffic that was diverted through a small road. The closure ended on Tuesday morning (Wednesday NZT).
Reports 9 dead in car accident have that caused a closure of I-10 from Wilcox, Ariz. to Lordsburg New Mexico.... pic.twitter.com/V8WFW8xwRb— Steve Grasha (@RiversideWeekly) June 20, 2017
State police say sudden high winds caused limited visibility from blowing dust, causing 18 commercial trucks and seven passenger cars to crash on the westbound lanes of I-10.
The interstate at Lordsburg has seen several closures this year because of blowing dust and low visibility. The dust comes from vacant desert land in the largely rural area.
"It's a topographical area in which the winds come through where there's nothing that can be done to prevent it," State Police spokesman Carl Christiansen said.
In February, two women were killed when their car got sandwiched between two semi-trucks in a crash caused by a dust storm.
Christiansen said the state has posted signs that span 160km, warning drivers about sudden winds, and, in the past, it has aired public service announcements.
He said State Police have responded to numerous crashes in that area in the past few years.
"It's never easy. It doesn't get easier each time," Christiansen said.
Though I-10 has reopened, the vehicle tows were slow because there weren't enough tow trucks in the area, Christiansen said.
The dead include Jose Manuel Clemente, 77, and Maurella Clemente Munoz, 38, of El Paso, Texas; Jose Elias Caraveo-Serrano, 30, and Susana Caraveo, 29, of Phoenix, along with their nine-month-old girl; and Josefina Silva, 47, of Escondido, California.