At least 13 people were killed after an SUV crashed into a gravel truck in California, authorities say.
California Highway Patrol confirmed that 12 people died at the scene of the accident on state route 155 and that at least one more died later at El Centro Regional Medical Center.
Police said that there were 25 people packed into the SUV when it collided with the truck on Tuesday morning.
Earlier Judy Cruz, the El Centro Regional Medical Center’s emergency department director had said 15 people had died and that there were 27 passengers in the SUV.
Dr Adolphe Edward, the chief executive officer of the hospital, said they were dealing with a “major accident.”
“The patients are, of course, going through a little bit of a difficult time,” said Dr Edward.
“This was a major accident, and we are taking care of them in the emergency room department.”
CHP officials say that the passengers in the SUV were aged between 16 and 55, and a number of them were thrown out of the vehicle when it crashed.
Four people were transported by helicopter to the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, California, where three remain in intensive care, confirmed hospital public information officer Todd Burke.
The truck driver reportedly only suffered minor injuries in the crash.
Jake Sanchez, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, said that the Ford Expedition SUV had a maximum legal capacity of seven to eight people.
Imperial County Fire Department said it responded to the “mass fatality incident” at 6.16am.
Customs and Border Patrol officers are on the scene assisting the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office.
Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection in Yuma and El Centro, said the immigration status of those in the vehicle was unknown and under investigation.
“It was an unusual number of people in an SUV, but we don’t know who they were. They might have just been farmworkers,” said Mr Mora.
A harvest is underway in the area of most of the winter lettuce and greens eaten in the United States.