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At least 3 dead in 50-car pileup in Pennsylvania

Dozens of vehicles skidded, spun out, and collided with each other in a massive highway accident that left at least three dead on a frozen stretch of Interstate 78 in Bethel Township, Pennsylvania, Saturday morning. The pileup was likely caused in part by the extreme winter weather that has hit much of the northeastern United States.

The crash, which local news outlets reported involved 50 or more vehicles, including roughly a dozen tractor-trailers, happened around 9:30 Saturday morning.

In addition to the fatalities, at least a dozen people were injured in the accident, said Trooper David LeBron of the Jonestown State Police Barracks, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Rescue workers, including a dozen ambulances and rescue units and four helicopters, were sent to the scene to aid victims, who included at least 15 people trapped in their vehicles.

Several organizations, including the State Police, the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, are coordinating to respond to the accident, and Central Pennsylvania Red Cross workers assisted at a shelter set up at the fire department in nearby Jonestown.

One of the vehicles involved in the accident was a bus carrying the Penn State Lehigh Valley men’s basketball team to a game in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.

In an announcement on the school’s website, Penn State said the team’s chartered bus had been hit by a tractor-trailer, but that there were “no serious injuries to anyone who was on the bus,” adding around noon that “the team is on a warm, dry bus and they are en route to the nearest hospital as a precautionary measure.”

Although the exact cause of the crash was unknown as of Saturday evening, the surface of I-78 in the area around the crash was dusted with snow, and there were snowdrifts on the shoulder of the road. Witnesses who were present at the scene reported whiteout conditions at the time of the pileup.

States across the East Coast and Midwest are experiencing extreme cold weather, and the National Weather Service has issued wind chill warnings for wide swathes of the country. The frigid forecast prompted many event cancellations Saturday, including New York City’s annual Central Park Ice Festival.