At least six people died in a fiery chain-reaction crash on a remote stretch of New Mexico highway after the lead vehicle apparently stopped abruptly when it was overcome by a blinding dust storm, a state police spokesman said Friday.
Though a New Mexico State Police officer arrived within minutes, the fire department took longer to reach the scene of the incident in Hidalgo County.
Three cars, an RV and three trucks were involved in the string of collisions Thursday night. By the time firefighters arrived, all but the RV were engulfed in flames, police spokesman Sgt. Damyan Brown said. The identities of the charred vehicles and the bodies couldn't be immediately determined.
The crash happened on Interstate 10, about six miles east of the Arizona border.
Dust storms are forewarned along the interstate through signs urging drivers to exercise caution.
Brown said police recommend that drivers caught in a dust storm slow down and turn on their hazard lights. Dust storms should only last a couple of minutes, he said.
"Don’t stop in your lane or the shoulder because it’s extremely dangerous, since tractor-trailers have an inability to quickly stop," Brown said.
A major storm system remained positioned above central New Mexico on Friday, leading to severe thunderstorm warnings around Albuquerque. Gusts were expected to reach 60 mph.