At least four people were killed and 12 critically injured on Thursday when an amphibious tour bus collided head-on with a charter bus on a Seattle bridge, authorities said.
The fire department said 44 people were treated at area hospitals for injuries after the crash on the heavily trafficked Aurora Bridge, which crosses a canal linking Lake Union with the Puget Sound's Shilshole Bay.
Traffic safety on the bridge, which has no median barrier, has been a concern of state and local officials.
Local TV broadcast footage showed the front of the Ride the Ducks bus crumpled with debris on the ground from the impact with the tour bus.
Emergency personnel, including nearly 100 firefighters, raced to the scene to treat the injured.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray described the crash as "a terrible tragedy" and said one of the buses had foreign students on board.
"We are contacting their consulates," he told a news conference.
North Seattle College said in a statement that students and staff members from its International Program were on the tour bus. The college said it had no additional information.
A witness to the crash, Jesse Christenson, 32, saw the duck boat with its turn signal on trying to get in the left lane, and then it made a sharp move to the left.
"I initially thought it was a (tire) blow out. The duck boat then hit another car with a roof rack then went head on into the oncoming tour bus," Christenson told the Seattle Times newspaper. "The scene was pretty gruesome ... There were people in shock."
Four people died at the scene, Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said. Among the 44 injured, 12 were in critical condition and 32 received non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
The people on the tour bus suffered the majority of the significant injuries, a fire department spokeswoman said. Two other passenger vehicles were involved in the crash, she said.
The accident comes nearly five months after an amphibious sightseeing vehicle hit and killed a woman on a Philadelphia street.
Ride the Ducks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company takes tourists on amphibious tours of Seattle and other U.S. cities and features a quirky history lesson delivered by the bus driver that includes loud music and theatrical props.
The vessels resemble the amphibious transport trucks used by the U.S. military in World War Two.
© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.