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At Least 8 Dead In Tenn. Church Bus Crash

Eight people are reported dead in a fiery crash between a tractor trailer and a tour bus in Tennessee.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the crash has shut down both sides of Interstate 40, in Statesville, Tenn., east of Knoxville.

Aerial images of the crash show a smoldering trailer and an overturned bus.

The Statesville Record & Landmark reports the chartered tour bus was carrying "senior adults" from the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, who were on their way back from a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Multiple news outlets are quoting Tennessee Highway Patrol as saying eight people died in the accident. Brad Phillips, the director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, said during a press conference that 12 victims had been taken to the hospital by ambulance and by helicopter.

Phillips said the National Transportation Safety Board would be investigating the cause of the accident.

Update at 4:38 p.m. ET. A Church Bus:

WBIR-TV reports the bus was carrying "senior adults" from the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C.

"The seniors were on a trip to Gatlinburg, TN for the Fall Jubilee," the station tweets, quoting church officials.

Update at 3:51 p.m. ET. At Least 6 Dead:

Citing the Tennessee Highway Patrol, NPR member station WUOT reports that at least six people are dead.

WVLT-TV, and the News Sentinelare reporting that same number citing authorities.

The paper reports:

"The bus was eastbound on I-40 when it 'traveled across the median and struck a tractor-trailer and passenger car that were traveling westbound,' according to Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls.

"'The tractor-trailer caught fire and the bus overturned,' Qualls said. 'There are multiple fatalities and injuries at this time.'"

Update at 3:35 p.m. ET. A Picture:

WBIR-TV tweeted this dramatic picture of the scene:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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