13 killed in north Texas charter bus crash

SHERMAN, Texas (AP) - A charter bus carrying a Vietnamese Catholic group to an annual pilgrimage slammed onto its side and then skidded off a freeway early today in North Texas -- killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 40.

The right front tire of the bus carrying 55 people from Houston to Missouri blew out, but officials were still investigating the cause of the wreck.

Fire Chief Jeff Jones says that ten people were airlifted and the rest of the passengers were taken to hospitals by ambulance, many with serious injuries.

The bus smashed into a guard rail at about 12:45 a.m. on a bridge that's about 15 feet above a creek, apparently skidding along the guard rail before sliding off U.S. 75 just the other side of the bridge.

The bus came to a rest on its right side, partly on the northbound lane of the freeway and partly on the grass. Workers righted the bus early today -- revealing a crumpled right side -- and loaded it onto a large flatbed truck.

A Galveston/Houston archdiocese church official said many of those on the bus were from the Vietnamese Martyrs Church of Houston and were on their way to a religious festival honoring the Virgin Mary in Carthage, Missouri.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)