Multiple fatalities have been reported after a dust storm caused at least 40 to 60 cars to crash along a major highway in Central Illinois on Monday, officials said.
The crashes along I-55 led to the interstate closing in Sangamon and Montgomery counties, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The city of Springfield, the state capital, is in Sangamon County.
Illinois State Police Captain Ryan Starrick said at least “40 to 60 passenger cars” were involved in the crashes and they have reports of “multiple fatalities” and more than 30 people being hospitalized.
Interstate 55 in southern Sangamon and northern Montgomery counties remains closed in both directions because of numerous crashes caused by a dust storm, which has greatly reduced visibility. (photo via @wics_abc20) pic.twitter.com/rYbWKndJa6
— IDOT_Illinois (@IDOT_Illinois) May 1, 2023
At least two semi trucks caught fire in the crashes, according to Starrick.
“Interstate 55 in southern Sangamon and northern Montgomery counties remains closed in both directions because of numerous crashes caused by a dust storm, which has greatly reduced visibility,” the state Department of Transportation said in a tweet.
CNN has reached out to county coroner offices and state police for more information.
The National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois, issued a “blowing dust warning” at 1:25 p.m. CT.
“Severely limited visibilities are expected. Travel will be dangerous and possibly life-threatening,” the warning stated. Winds across the region have been gusting between 35 and 45 mph.
The warning went on to say that people with respiratory problems should plan to stay inside until the storm passes. It noted to “be ready for a sudden drop in visibility to near zero.”