At least five people are dead following a massive pileup on an icy stretch of interstate in Fort Worth, Texas, early Thursday morning that involved between 75 and 100 vehicles, a Fort Worth police spokesperson told NPR.
The accident took place on Interstate 35 West, just north of downtown Fort Worth, around 6 a.m. local time. Authorities declared it a mass casualty event, meaning the number of patients exceeds the local available resources.
Officials said at least 36 people have been transported to local hospitals, according to NPR member station KERA.
Fort Worth police spokesperson Brad Perez said the number of injuries remains unknown as responders are still "actively working the accident." The fire department said earlier that multiple people were trapped.
In a midmorning update, police officer Daniel Segura described the accident scene as "ongoing and very active." Members of the fire department, emergency responders and Traffic Investigation Unit detectives are working "step by step" to evacuate people still on the scene and reunite passengers and drivers with their families, he added, and asked the public to keep the families in their prayers.
The police department has established a reunification center where family members can pick up loved ones who were involved in the pileup.
Segura asked people to continue avoiding the area and take alternate routes to work or school. Weather conditions remain dangerous, he added, reminding drivers to keep their distance, slow down and wear seat belts.
Police said Thursday morning that I-35 was backed up "in both directions," with all northbound express and regular lanes closed because of the accident.
A winter storm warning is in effect for parts of central Texas through Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service, which warns that in areas with freezing rain, it could result in icy roads and bridges and make for dangerous travel conditions.
The Fort Worth pileup wasn't the only major multivehicle crash in the state, with authorities in Austin responding to a collision involving approximately 26 cars.
The National Weather Service Fort Worth said in a tweet that there had been many accidents Thursday morning, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
"These events are so dangerous because the ice is spotty," it stated. "We can't stress enough that road conditions could go from good to dangerous within blocks. Take it slow out there."
This is a developing story.