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13 Vietnamese pilgrims killed in Texas bus crash

world Updated: Aug 08, 2008 18:11 IST

AFP
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A bus chartered by Vietnamese pilgrims crashed in Texas on Friday, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens more, police said.

The bus, carrying 55 people, drove off a major highway overpass bridge shortly after midnight and crashed in the town of Sherman, some 96 kilometers (60 miles) north of Dallas.

"A blown tire on the bus may have caused the driver to lose control," Sherman police lieutenant Bob Fair told AFP, adding that an investigation was underway to determine if other factors contributed to the crash.

The accident took place around 12:45 am Friday (0545 GMT), the Sherman Herald-Democrat reported, adding that the bus ended up lying on its right side.

A large section of the highway was closed down as ambulances and at least 13 helicopters rushed to the scene to ferry the wounded to Dallas area hospitals, the newspaper reported.

All of the passengers were believed to be Vietnamese Catholics who were heading from Houston, Texas to a church event in Carthage, Missouri, Fair said.

"The driver is alive. He is with officers at this time," Fair said. He was unable to provide details on the number of people injured.

Another Sherman police lieutenant, Mark McRee, said that victims had been transported to various area hospitals for treatment.

"We have sent victims to six or eight different hospitals," McRee said.

Local media said the group was from the Vietnamese Martyrs Church of Houston, and was on its way to an annual celebration in honor of the Virgin Mary.