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65 cars, 3 big rigs pile up in Massachusetts

| Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
In this photo provided by the Massachusetts State Police via Twitter, cars are underneath a tractor-trailer at the scene of a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 290 caused by icy road conditions Sunday morning, Dec. 1, 2013, in downtown Worcester, Mass. About 50 vehicles, including three tractor-trailers, are involved in the I-290 pileup, according to the Worcester Telegram. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police) (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police)

WORCESTER, Mass. — Freezing rain was blamed for highway pileups that sent dozens of people to the hospital on Sunday morning in central and northern Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State Police say a crash involving 65 cars and three tractor-trailers closed Interstate 290 in Worcester about 7 a.m.

About 35 to 40 people were taken to hospitals. Two were seriously injured.

Both directions of the highway were reopened by 11:45 a.m., authorities said.

Sergeant Stephen Marsh compared the road to a sheet of ice.

“It was like if you went skating with your kids. It was that bad,” he said.

A state police car was rear-ended, and the trooper was forced to hurriedly return to her cruiser to avoid cars sliding toward her.

The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory through 11 a.m. Sunday for much of western and central Massachusetts, northeast Connecticut and northwest Rhode Island.

Police advised motorists returning home from the Thanksgiving holiday to wait until state highway crews treated the roads.

Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said crews treated roads earlier, but conditions deteriorated quickly.

“It came up suddenly and quickly, and the number of crews we had just wasn't enough,” he said.

Temperatures are forecast to rise into the 40s on Monday, keeping roads free of ice.

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