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Bus Veers Off Icy Oregon Road: Nine Killed

A tour bus has crashed through a barrier on an icy road in Oregon and fallen several hundred feet into a ravine, leaving nine people dead and at least 26 others injured.

The driver apparently lost control on a snow and ice covered section of Interstate 84 that winds down a hill.

After hitting the bottom of the embankment it landed upright, with little debris visible around the crash site.

More than a dozen rescue workers used ropes to help pull people from the wreckage in freezing weather.

The bus is thought to have been carrying about 40 people. The driver was among the survivors, but has not yet spoken to police because of the severity of the injuries he has suffered.

The names and nationalities of the victims and other passengers were not immediately released but many "are believed to be out of country residents", according to police.

Lt Greg Hastings said the bus crashed along the west end of the Blue Mountains and west of an area called Deadman Pass.

The area is so dangerous the state transportation department published specific warnings for lorry drivers, advising it had "some of the most changeable and severe weather conditions in the Northwest" and can lead to poor conditions and visibility.

The bus was en route from Las Vegas to Vancouver and was owned by Mi Joo travel in Vancouver.

A bus safety website run by the US Department of Transportation said Mi Joo travel has six buses, none of which have been involved in any accidents in at least the past two years.

The bus crash was the second fatal accident on the same highway in Oregon on Sunday. A 69-year-old man died in a rollover accident about 30 miles (48kms) west of the area where the bus crashed.

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

"The industry as a whole is a very safe industry," said Dan Ronan, of the Washington DC based group.

"There are only a handful of accidents every year. Comparatively speaking, we're the safest form of surface transportation."

The bus crash comes more than two months after another tour bus veered off a highway in northern Arizona, killing the driver and injuring dozens of passengers who were mostly tourists from Asia and Europe. Authorities said the driver may have suffered a medical episode.