By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
ILLINOIS/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – At least six people died, and dozens were injured as a dust storm caused visibility to plummet along a Midwestern U.S. highway, more than a month after a similar phenomenon caused havoc in Europe.
U.S. authorities said nearly 100 vehicles crashed in the storm, which reduced visibility to near zero, triggering a series of chain-reaction crashes in Springfield, Illinois.
Eyewitnesses saw an almost apocalyptic scene of burnt wreckage along a stretch of the Interstate 55 highway, silhouetted against the haze.
Two semi-trucks caught fire due to Monday’s pileup near “milepost 76 in south-central Illinois’ Montgomery County,” authorities said.
The Illinois State Police also reported that 37 people were transported to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening and ages spanning from 2 years old to 80 years old.
Of the six fatalities, one victim was identified Monday night as 88-year-old Shirley Harper of Franklin, Wisconsin. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office was working to identify the other five victims, the Illinois State Police said.
As investigations continued, Traffic on Interstate 55 was shut down in both directions for nearly 30 miles (48 kilometers), impacting many as it is a major thoroughfare connecting cities like Chicago and St. Louis.
The dust storm in the United States came more than a month after a similar weather phenomenon caused a massive pileup thousands of miles away in Hungary.
On March 11, authorities said an unprecedented “sandstorm” likely caused a massive pile-up on Hungary’s M1 highway towards the Austrian capital Vienna, killing one person and injuring dozens.
Officials said the tragedy, about 16 miles (26 kilometers) west of Budapest, involved 37 cars and five trucks. Scores of people, including ten children, were injured, police said at the time. The accident shocked Hungary, a European nation of nearly 10 million people.
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