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9 die in Oregon tour bus crash

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By The Associated Press
Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 9:20 p.m.

PENDLETON, Ore. — A tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and several hundred feet down a steep embankment on Sunday, killing nine people and injuring about 20, authorities said.

The charter bus carrying about 40 people lost control around 10:30 a.m. on the snow- and ice-covered lanes of Interstate 84, according to the Oregon State Police.

The bus came to rest at the bottom of a snowy slope. More than a dozen rescue workers descended the hill and used ropes to help retrieve people from the wreckage in freezing weather. The bus driver was among the survivors but had not yet spoken to police because of the severity of the injuries the driver had suffered.

Lt. Greg Hastings said the accident happened west end of the Blue Mountains, and west of an area called “Deadman Pass.” Stretches of highway in the rural and agricultural area of east Oregon tend to be icy in winter months.

I-84 is a major east-west highway through Oregon that follows the Columbia River Gorge.

Umatilla County Emergency Manager Jack Remillard said the bus was owned by Mi Joo travel in Vancouver, British Columbia, and state police the bus was en route from Las Vegas to Vancouver.

A woman who answered the phone at a listing for the company confirmed with The Associated Press that it owned the bus and said it was on a tour of the Western United States. She declined to give her name.

A spokesman for the American Bus Association said buses carry more than 700 million passengers a year in the United States.

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