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Eight die in off-road race accident

An off-road truck has ploughed into a crowd and scattered "bodies everywhere" moments after sailing off a jump at a California race, killing eight people and injuring 12 others.

The crash came shortly after the start of the California 200 on Saturday night, a race in the Mojave Desert, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.

It took rescue vehicles and helicopters more than half an hour to reach the remote location, and spectators including off-duty police and firefighters helped the injured.

Six people died at the scene and two others died after being taken to a hospital, authorities said. Seven ambulances and 10 emergency aircraft responded, airlifting most of the 12 injured people from the area to Loma Linda University Medical Centre or St Mary's Medical Centre.

"There was dust everywhere, people screaming, people running," said David Conklin, a photographer covering the event for off-road magazines.

Paramedics brought six people - five adults and a child - to Loma Linda University Medical Centre, said spokesman Herbert Atienza but he had no information on their condition.

Conklin said the Prerunner truck was among the first 20 off the line in the race. It had just gone over a jump known as "the rockpile" about two miles into the race, and Conklin said he watched the truck sail through the air. Then he turned to watch for other vehicles when he heard the commotion caused by the crash.

"When I got up to the vehicle I could tell that several people were trapped. There were just bodies everywhere," he said. "One woman with a major head wound (was) lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car."

The truck came to a rest upside down. Spectators rushed to the truck and about half a dozen people flipped it upright to try to help at least one person pinned underneath. Officials said the driver wasn't hurt but had to flee the scene to escape angry spectators.

The 200-mile race is part of a series held in the Mojave Desert's Soggy Dry Lake Bed near the city of Lucerne Valley, 100 miles north-east of Los Angeles.


From Belfast Telegraph