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2nd Qtr 13:05 1st & 10, Opp's 10

9 die as tour bus slides off icy highway in Oregon

PENDLETON, Ore. — A tour bus crashed through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and went several hundred feet down a steep embankment Sunday, killing nine people and injuring more than 20 others, authorities said.

The charter bus carrying about 40 people lost control about 10:30 a.m. on the snow- and ice-covered lanes of Interstate 84, according to the Oregon State Police.

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The bus came to rest at the bottom of a snowy slope. More than a dozen rescue workers descended the hill and used ropes to help retrieve people from the wreckage in freezing weather.

The bus driver was among the survivors, but had not yet spoken to police because of the severity of the injuries the driver had suffered.

Lieutenant Greg Hastings said the bus crashed along the west end of the Blue Mountains, and west of an area called Deadman Pass. Stretches of highway in the rural and agricultural area of east Oregon tend to be icy in winter months.

The bus slid down the hill and landed upright, with little or no debris visible at the site.

St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton treated 26 people from the accident, including some who were transferred to other medical facilities, said hospital spokesman Larry Blanc.

Some of the injured were transferred to La Grand and Hermiston, Ore., and Walla Walla, Wash., Hastings said. Others were taken directly to hospitals further away, including Boise, Idaho, and Portland, Ore.

I-84 is a major east-west highway through Oregon that follows the Columbia River Gorge.

Umatilla County Emergency Manager Jack Remillard said the bus was owned by Mi Joo travel in Vancouver, B.C., and police said the bus was en route from Las Vegas to Vancouver.

A woman who answered the phone at a listing for the company said the bus was on a tour of the Western United States.

A bus safety website run by the US Department of Transportation said Mi Joo Tour & Travel has six buses, none of which have been in any accidents in the past two years.

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