Ten people were killed and dozens injured after a tractor trailer jumped the divider and slammed head-on into a charter bus on a California highway on Thursday, authorities said.
A car was also mangled after the FedEx truck jumped into oncoming traffic along Interstate 5 in Orland — about 100 miles north of Sacramento — about 5:40 p.m., KRCR-TV reported.
The bus — which was carrying college-bound students from Los Angeles to tour Humboldt State University — and the 18-wheeler were engulfed in flames when emergency workers arrived minutes later, KNBC-TV reported.
Five of those killed were students, three were chaperones, and two were the drivers of the bus and the FedEx truck, the California Highway Patrol said, according to KNBC-TV. At least 34 people were injured.
Massive flames could be seen devouring both vehicles just after the crash, and clouds of smoke billowed into the sky until firefighters had quenched the fire, leaving behind scorched black hulks of metal. Bodies were draped in yellow plastic inside the burned-out bus.
California Highway Patrol dispatchers said the drivers of the tractor-trailer and bus were among the dead, along with seven other people who were riding on the bus.
University police were trying to determine which school districts the students were from and fielding telephone calls from anxious parents, Lopes said.
Humboldt State spokesman Simon Chabel said the school was working to confirm where in Southern California the students on the wrecked bus are from.
"There is still a lot of information to be gathered, and we are working as hard as we can to gather that information and communicate it as best as we can to parents and other family members during this terrible tragedy," he said.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said an unknown number of students from Manual Arts Senior High School and Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools were on the trip. He did not know whether they were on the bus involved in the crash.
A high school senior from Alliance Renee & Meyer Luskin Academy High School in Los Angeles said she and a few of her classmates who were accepted to the university were invited to go on the tour.
Sabrina Garcia said the tour began Thursday, with buses taking students in Southern California on a 13-hour ride to the campus for a three-day stay on campus. She said she decided to postpone the tour because she had a school project to complete.
"I was devastated when I heard about the crash, and relieved that I didn't attend," Garcia said. "I can't imagine how those kids feel. You think you're going somewhere safe with your school — and you end up in an accident."
A CHP dispatcher says the bus and truck were on opposite sides of the freeway when the truck crossed the median and slammed into the bus, causing an explosion and fire.
Investigators say the truck driver might have been trying to avoid a passenger car that was also involved in the crash, which shut down north- and south-bound traffic on the freeway.
A first responder who helped set up a triage at the scene said 36 or 37 people received injuries ranging from severe to minor burns, broken legs and noses and head lacerations.