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Charter Bus Crash North of Dallas Kills 13

SHERMAN, Texas (AP) -- A charter bus carrying Vietnamese worshipers on a pilgrimage ran off an highway overpass north of Dallas and crashed in flames on a roadway below, killing at least 13 people and sending at least 24 to hospitals.



The bus smashed into a guard rail at about 12:45 a.m. on a bridge that's about 15 feet above a creek, apparently skidding along the guard rail before sliding off U.S. 75 just the other side of the bridge.



It came to a rest on its right side in the northbound lane of an access road. Workers righted the bus early Friday revealing a crumpled and burnt-out right side and were loading it onto a large flatbed truck. Other workers were cleaning debris and gathering luggage, shopping bags and scattered pieces of clothing.



The bus carrying 55 people from Houston to Missouri may have blown a tire, but officials were still investigating.



"You can't tell anything anymore," Sherman Police Lt. Robert Fair said. "We're not ruling out anything right now."



Police say 12 people died at the scene and another died at a Dallas hospital.



The accident happened less than a mile from the spot where a trucker crossed the median and killed 10 people five years ago.



The injured, including the driver of the bus, were rushed to several North Texas hospitals.



A spokeswoman at Wilson N. Jones Medical Center in Sherman said it was treating 15 patients, five of them in critical condition. A spokesman with Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas said three men and one woman were in critical condition.



The conditions of two women who were taken to& Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas were being evaluated, a spokeswoman said. A man and a woman were in critical condition at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.



One person first brought to the Sherman hospital was transferred to Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital. That person's condition was not immediately known.



It was unclear if weather played a role in the wreck, but a National Weather Service meteorologist said there was some light rain in the area around midnight.



Northbound traffic on the highway was shut down as ambulances and helicopters used the roadway and median to ferry the injured to hospitals.



KHOU-TV quoted a Galveston/Houston archdiocese church official as saying many of those on the bus were from the Vietnamese Martyrs Church of Houston and were on their way to a religious festival honoring the Virgin Mary in Carthage, Mo. At least four translators were brought to the scene, the Herald Democrat of Sherman reported.



Sherman is about 65 miles north of Dallas.

Associated Press writers Regina L. Burns and Jamie Stengle contributed to this report.



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