POTTSVILLE, Pa. — At least six people have died and more than a dozen were injured Monday morning when a snow squall caused a pileup on Interstate 81 that snared as many as 60 vehicles, Pennsylvania State Police confirmed.
Dr. David J. Moylan, the Schuylkill County coroner, said that three fatalities had been confirmed by late afternoon but that number could increase because burning vehicles were hindering rescue efforts.
“I suspect (the death toll) could run higher,” Moylan told The Associated Press.
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania State Police said that three more people had died, bringing the death toll to six.
According to Schuylkill County authorities, about 20 motorists had been transported to area hospitals by 5 p.m. EDT, PennLive.com reported.
Schuylkill County Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator John Blickley told the news outlet that the crash was first reported around 10:30 a.m., and state police confirmed just before 2:30 p.m. that several vehicles were still burning.
Footage uploaded to social media on Monday showed a tractor-trailer smash into a large dump truck, turning it nearly 180 degrees. Another large truck spewed black smoke and orange flames into the air and an SUV struck a passenger car sending the sedan spinning, narrowly missing its driver who stood on the shoulder of the highway shrouded in snow and fog.
Three tractor-trailers carrying unknown cargo, as well as some smaller vehicles, were ablaze when first responders arrived, Blickley told the AP.
The fire, which has delayed the response, was complicated by the lack of hydrants at the scene, forcing fire crews to bring tanker trucks to the area, state police Trooper David Beohm told PennLive.com.
Meanwhile, Blickley said that as many as 75 motorists who were not hurt in the pileup were bussed to a reception area set up by the American Red Cross at the Wegman’s distribution center in an industrial park near the crash. A reunification center had also been set up at the Goodwill Fire Company in Minersville.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, visibility in the area remains poor through heavy snow and wind gusts up to 30 mph, PennLive.com reported.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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