Six people were killed and more than 30 injured in crashes Monday morning on Interstate 55 in rural central Illinois due to “high winds” that blew dust from nearby farms, leading to “zero visibility” conditions, Illinois. State Police said.
About 20 commercial vehicles and 40 to 60 cars, including two tractor-trailers that caught fire, were involved in the crash just before 11 a.m. in Farmersville, Ill., south of Springfield, police said. Report.
The injured ranged in age from 2 to 80 and their injuries ranged from minor to life-threatening, officials said, making it difficult to extricate people from their vehicles, some of which were engulfed in flames.
“It’s a difficult scenario, and it’s very difficult to train for something that we haven’t experienced locally,” Kevin Schott, director of Montgomery County’s Emergency Management Agency, said at a news conference Monday.
The dust storm came quickly, creating blizzard-like conditions in which visibility was severely reduced, officials said. According to the National Weather Service, drivers in the area were advised to turn on their hazard lights, and they noted that winds should subside around 8 p.m. Monday.
The Environmental Protection Agency was called in to contain the spill from some diesel trucks.
The highway, a major artery in the area, was closed in both directions between mileposts 63 and 80, and drivers were urged to seek alternate routes.