A Greyhound bus carrying 49 passengers and a semi-truck collided in New Mexico, US, on Thursday, killing at least seven people and inflicting many others with serious injuries, the New Mexico State Police Department said.
"Preliminary crash information indicates a semi-tractor-trailer travelling on I-40 [eastbound] had a tyre blowout and crossed into oncoming [westbound] traffic, colliding with a Greyhound bus," the NMSPD said.
At least 43 people have been taken to area hospitals, some of whom were in critical condition, ABC News reported.
It's not clear at this time whether that number, or the 49 passenger total, includes the driver of the bus.
The driver of the semi-truck sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the crash, the NMSPD said.
All but six of those on the bus were taken to nearby hospitals, police officer Ray Wilson told a news conference, adding that their injuries were minor and treated at the site.
Passengers were trapped on board the bus, screaming as rescuers tried to get them out through windows, according to one witness who passed by the scene.
"It was horrible, there was people trying to climb out of the windows of the bus... bystanders trying to help people getting ladders out of their truck to get to windows of Greyhound bus to assist," a witness told KRQE.
"When we went by the overturned semi, everything in the trailer was out on the road. It was a disaster... you could tell people were in distress, screams were coming from bus."
Another motorist described the scene of the deadly bus crash as chaotic, with people screaming and passengers on the ground.
Chris Jones said in a phone interview that he was headed west on Interstate 40 near the Arizona state line when he saw the semi-truck on its side.
Jones says he stopped to help and talked to the driver who told him that one of his front tyres had popped, forcing the truck to veer into oncoming traffic, where it struck the bus.
The bus was heading from Albuquerque to Phoenix and there were 49 passengers on board, Greyhound spokesperson Crystal Booker said.
"The exact number of injuries is still being investigated," NMSPD said at 5.30pm MDT, adding, "This scene remains active."
Gallup Indian Health Services received 37 of the injured, Jennifer Buschick, a spokesperson for the Gallup hospital said.
Six people with injuries too severe to be treated there were stabilised and taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
Three of the six taken to UNMH were in critical condition but the condition of the rest had not been released, spokesperson Cindy Foster said.
The bus incurred significant front-end damage, with photos from the scene showing the semi-truck overturned on its side and debris from its cargo covering the area surrounding both vehicles.
The crash shut down the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 near Thoreau near mile marker 50, police said.
"Traffic is being diverted onto the frontage road in Thoreau," NMSPD tweeted, telling drivers to expect delays.
The crash was reported around 1pm MDT (7am NZT), KOB4 reported.
"We are fully cooperating with local authorities and will also complete an investigation of our own," Booker said.