Louisiana State Police
At least seven people were killed in a series of crashes along Interstate 55 in Louisiana involving at least 158 vehicles, state police said.
At least seven people were killed Monday in a series of crashes along Interstate 55 in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish involving at least 158 vehicles, state police say.
More than 25 people were taken to hospitals with injuries ranging from minor to critical. Louisiana State Police he said in an evening news release. And many victims sought medical help on their own, authorities said.
Meteorologists previously said “super fog”had heavily impacted the area, just west of New Orleans, at the time of the crashes. The super fog is a thick fog which develops in wet, smoky conditions and can cause visibility to plummet to less than 10 feet, according to the National Weather Service.
Some of the vehicles caught fire after the initial crash, authorities said. One of the vehicles involved in the accidents was a tanker truck carrying “dangerous liquid,” police said without giving further details about the substance.
Police were working Monday night to move the truck due to a “compromised tank/trailer.”
“Once the tanker is removed, first responders will be able to better assess vehicles in that immediate area. It is possible that more fatalities could be located,” the state police added.
Authorities have asked the public to contact them if they have any missing family members who were traveling through the area Monday morning.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he was praying for those killed and injured in the crashes.
Meteorologists say a phenomenon known as “super fog” hit the area, just west of New Orleans, around the time of the massive crashes.
“The combination of wildfire smoke and dense fog is dangerous, and I want to encourage all Louisianans in the affected areas to use extreme caution when traveling,” Edwards saying on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I also want to thank the first responders and medical personnel who have worked so diligently to save lives and provide aid,” the governor added. “The best way to help them, besides being careful on the road, is to donate blood at your local blood donation center. “It will help replenish supplies that are running out today to care for the injured.”
Previously, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre told CNN affiliate WVUE About three 18-wheelers collided in the northbound lanes and were completely engulfed in flames. Two multi-vehicle crashes were reported in the southbound lanes, one of which also caused flames.
According to Tregre, all rescuers had to be on foot because the accidents left the area “completely paralyzed.”
“The situation is quite bad,” he added.
Rescuers were not yet able to fully assess the accident site because a tanker truck was carrying “dangerous liquid.” The truck was being moved from the interstate Monday night.
Visibility levels were below a quarter mile at a nearby weather station from shortly after 4 a.m. CDT until shortly before 10 a.m. CDT. Visibility probably approached zero at times in the morning when the fog was densest.
The incredibly dense fog, known as “super fog” was caused by fog combining with smoke from nearby fires.
Louisiana has struggled unprecedented forest fires, extreme heat and a relentless drought since the summer. Exceptional droughtthe highest category tracked by the U.S. Drought Monitor, it applies to 62% of the state.
In a declaration On Monday, the city of New Orleans said it is monitoring an active fire burning underground in forested wetlands between the Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge and the Michoud Canal.
The lack of rain combined with extreme summer heat dried out wetlands and lowered the depth of the water table, the city said. The fire being monitored has been burning at and below surface level, he added.
A repeat of Monday’s super fog is unlikely for tuesday morning as “winds should be much stronger,” the National Weather Service in New Orleans said Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter. Winds must be calm or very light for dense fog to form.
Patchy areas of dense fog are possible, but they will not be as widespread as Monday, the city said, citing the weather service.