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Texas bus fire with evacuees on board kills as many as 24

Emergency crews investigate the scene where a bus caught fire and exploded on northbound Interstate 45, Friday, Sept. 23, in Wilmer, Texas. The bus carrying elderly evacuees from Hurricane Rita caught fire and was rocked by explosions early Friday on a gridlocked highway near Dallas, killing as many as 24 people, authorities said. The bus, with about 45 people on board, had been traveling since Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Just heartbreaking. The tragedy just keeps on coming. (KHOU):

The bus was engulfed with flames, causing a 17-mile backup on a freeway that was already heavily congested with evacuees from the Gulf Coast. By early Friday morning, the bus was reduced to a blackened, burned-out shell, surrounded by numerous police cars and ambulances.

“The early indications are this is a mechanical issue,” Peritz said. “The driver did survive the accident. It’s my understanding he went back on the bus several times to try to evacuate people.”

Rescue crews were trying to get to passengers trapped by the flames, but multiple explosions — apparently caused by oxygen canisters — kept them away. “Deputies were unable to get everyone off the bus,” spokesman Don Peritz said. Several people were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.

Tina Jones, a nurse from Ennis, was driving behind the bus when she saw it start to smoke and pull to the side of the road. “I saw the smoke and then there was an explosions,” said Jones, who pulled over and helped treat cuts and bruises. She said she saw at least six dead bodies.

“I’ll probably go home and have a good cry,” she said

Thanks to Blender Paul of Paul’s Rants for the pointer.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding