PALM SPRINGS, CA – A tour bus crashed into a freight truck on Sunday in Palm Springs, California, killing 13 people and injuring 31 others, according to state police.
The bus driver was among those killed, California Highway Patrol Chief Jim Abele said in a press conference. The freight truck driver was also injured.
Injuries range from minor to moderate, Abele said.
The victims’ identities are largely unknown due to a “swift extraction” by first responders, but all of the passengers are believed to be adults, Abele said.
The 1996 MCI bus, operated by USA Holiday, was returning to Los Angeles from the Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California, according to Abele.
The accident happened at 5:17 a.m. local time on westbound Interstate 10, according to the California Highway Patrol. It’s cause was not immediately known.
The CHP as well as the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
It’s unknown whether drugs, alcohol or fatigue were factors in the accident, Abele said, but the speed of the bus was so significant that when the bus hit the back of the big rig, the trailer entered approximately 15 feet into the bus.
“In almost 35 years I’ve never been to a crash where there’s been 13 confirmed fatal accidents. So, it’s tough,” he said. “It’s tough for all of us.”
He said the bus had been inspected in 2014, 2015 and most recently in April of this year with no mechanical problems reported.
Survivors said most passengers were asleep at the time of the accident, Abele said. The victims were found in their seats, he added.
Early videos from the scene show dozens of firefighters with ladders inside the mangled remains of the tour bus, struggling to reach the victims.
CNN affiliate KESQ reported that rescuers also used a crane to search the wreckage.
The California Highway Patrol said the highway would be closed for several hours.
Sunday’s crash may be among the deadliest in California in recent years.
Ten people were killed in April 2014 when a FedEx tractor-trailer crossed a median on Interstate 5 north of Sacramento and slammed into a bus carrying high school students from Los Angeles on their way to visit a college campus.