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5 dead in charter bus crash
bus crash
Authorities investigate the scene of a charter bus crash on northbound Highway 99 between Atwater and Livingston. A charter bus veered off the freeway before dawn Tuesday and struck a pole that sliced the vehicle nearly in half, killing multiple people and sending at least five others to hospitals, authorities said. - photo by AP Photo/Scott Smith

Five people were killed Tuesday morning when a charter bus careened off Highway 99 and crashed into a pole near Livingston.
The pole sheared through almost half of the bus before it came to a stop, according the California Highway Patrol.
Merced County sheriff Vern Warnke said several passengers lost limbs in the collision and described a scene in which emergency rescuers had to climb through windows to reach the injured and trapped. Warnke told the Associated Press there were “bags of body parts” being carried out.
The collision happened around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday on northbound Highway 99.
The CHP reported the bus was traveling at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control. The bus veered off the highway and into the Hammatt Avenue exit sign.
Five people were airlifted from the scene with major injuries and were taken to area hospitals.
The bus is from Autobuses Coordinados USA and was traveling from Southern California to Sacramento and eventually Washington. The bus was set to stop in Livingston around 1:30 a.m. To switch drivers.
A total of 30 people were on board the bus.
The names of the deceased have not been released.
The northbound lanes of the highway were closed for several hours and drivers were advised to find an alternate route.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.