A view of vehicles in a dust storm, which cut visibility to near zero and triggered a series of chain-reaction crashes involving dozens of vehicles, on a highway in Springfield, Illinois, U.S. May 1, 2023 in this picture obtained from social media. Image Credit: Thomas DeVore via TMX/via Reuters

Washington: At least six people died on Monday after a dust storm caused visibility to plummet along a US highway, leading to crashes involving nearly 100 vehicles, police said.

Some 40-60 passenger vehicles, along with 30 commercial vehicles, crashed in the Midwestern state of Illinois "due to excessive winds blowing dirt from farm fields across the highway," the Illinois State Police said in a statement.

Two semi-trucks caught fire as a result of the late-morning crashes, which occurred along a two-mile stretch of Interstate 55, the statement said.


The highway is a major thoroughfare, connecting cities like Chicago and St. Louis.

More than 30 people were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging "from minor to life threatening," police said. Victims ranged from ages two to 80.

Images published from the scene showed firefighters in the dusty, hazy aftermath, in some cases in near zero-visibility conditions as smoke - and sometimes fires - rose from vehicles, some of which had careened off the highway.

Eight people died in a similar accident in Utah in 2021, when a sandstorm caused a series of crashes ensnaring 22 vehicles.