Multiple dead and injured as Illinois dust storm causes ‘80-vehicle’ pile-up

Multiple people died in a multi-car accident in Illinois on I-55 during a dust storm on 1 May, according to police (WICS ABC 20 screengrab)

A massive dust storm caused several vehicle pileup on Interstate 55 south of Springfield, Illinois leading to multiple fatalities, according to police.

The multiple crashes occurred on Monday morning (1 May) at mile marker 76 on I-55 in both the northbound and southbound direction, Illinois State Police said in a press conference posted to Facebook.

Preliminary information revealed that approximately 20 commercial motor vehicles and 40-60 passenger cars were involved in the crash, a press release from the Illinois State Police posted to Facebook said.

Two tractor-semi-trailer trucks caught fire as a result of the crash.

So far, police have more than 30 people being transported to the hospital with multiple fatalities.

Divernon City Hall is being used as a reunification center for the families of the people involved in the fatal crash.

“The cause of the crash is due to excessive winds blowing dirt from farm fields across the highway leading to zero visibility,” the Illinois State Police said.

I-55 is shut down from mile marker 52 until 80 in both directions as they work on the large crash.

They urged motorists to take an alternative route as traffic was being diverted onto the frontage road.

The Illinois Department of Transportation tweeted a photo of the crash giving a glimpse into the destruction the zero visibility dust storm caused.

Another Twitter user showed a video of emergency responders arriving at the scene.

A dust storm occurs when strong winds blow loose sand and dirt from dry surfaces in a process called saltation.

As more particles are picked up and hit the ground they begin picking up other particles moving a large amount of dust and debris from one area to another.

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