Nine people were killed and at least 20 others injured on Sunday when a charter bus headed to Canada from Las Vegas skidded off an icy highway and crashed down an embankment in northeastern Oregon.
The Oregon State Police said a preliminary investigation showed the charter bus, carrying about 40 people en route to Vancouver, British Columbia, "lost control on the snow/ice covered westbound lanes of Interstate 84" near Pendleton.
The bus crashed through a guardrail and went down an embankment of around 200 feet. People trained in rope rescue were needed to bring victims back up to the highway, police said.
State Police spokesman Lt. Gregg Hastings said nine people had been confirmed killed in the crash.
"We are continuing to try and confirm the total number of passengers and number of injured persons transported to area hospital or secondary locations due to severity of injuries." the state police said in a written statement.
The bus driver survived the crash but investigators had not yet been interviewed because of the severity of his injuries, police said.
St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton received 18 of the injured, said Larry Blanc, the hospital's director of communications.
"About 10:30 this morning we got the call and declared a Code D, which means we bring in extra staff and supplies," he said, adding that D stands for "disaster."
"There are various types of injuries. Some of the injured were able to walk in on their own," Blanc said. "We are taking a lot of CT scans and assessing the injuries
Some of the injured were transported to nearby hospitals by ambulance and some were transported by air to other hospitals with trauma centers, he said.
Authorities did not immediately release the name of the charter company but said the bus was returning to Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of a round-trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Police said the names of the dead and wounded would not be released until next of kin were notified, which could take several days because many were believed to be from out of the country.
Pendleton is in northeast Oregon near the border with Washington state, about 200 miles east of Portland.