(UPDATE, 8:50 pm) At least five people have died following a pileup of more than 20 vehicles near Hardin, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.
Emergency crews are continuing to sift through the wreckage and expect the eastbound traffic to continue to be diverted until at least midnight.
The MHP noted that the death toll could rise, and troopers do not yet know how many people were injured.
(UPDATE, 8:10 pm) Witnesses tell MTN News that visibility around the crash scene was bad, as was the carnage.
“As we got closer into the dust storm, you could start seeing the vehicles in the ditch. There was a camper, the whole side of it was blown off, the top was off of it. Front ends of vehicles were smashed in," said Landa Uffelman.
Others said dust obscured the view of the scene from outside of 10 feet. A storm had pushed through the area not long before the pileup was reported.
“It was like a snowstorm but dust it was very low visibility, it was like fog. It reminded me of very dense fog," Ariel Dehart told MTN News.
Sheyenne Scheeler saw several cars that were crushed. She called the incident "gut wrenching," and said: “The first thing that we saw was a pickup that had been pulling a camper and the camper looked like it had been ripped open like a can. And then after that we started seeing more cars that had rear ended."
At this point, the Montana Highway Patrol has confirmed at least one fatality; the number of injured people is not yet known.
The MHP is expected to release an update later tonight.
(1st REPORT, 6:59 pm) At least 20 vehicles crashed in the westbound lane of Interstate 90 near the town of Hardin on Friday, July 15, 2022, in what authorities are calling a "mass casualty incident."
Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jay Nelson told MTN News that the incident was reported at around 4:30 p.m. and first responders were still arriving at the scene 90 minutes later.
The crash is centered around mile marker 493 about three miles west of Hardin and involves passenger vehicles and semi-trucks.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol, there has been at least one fatality. Emergency personnel are expected to be at the scene for several hours.
The Montana Department of Transportation website says:
WATCH OUT FOR EMERGENCY PERSONNEL - ALL EAST BOUND I-90 TRAFFIC IS BEING DIVERTED ONTO THE OLD HWY 87 AT MM 484 INTO HARDIN, MT. WEST BOUND TRAFFIC IS 1 LANE AT MM 494 - DRIVE WITH CAUTION
At this point, there is no word on what caused the crashes. We will update you as we get more information.
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