Five people die in fatal bus crash

Atwater, California. A bus veered off course while traveling on a central California highway before dawn Tuesday and hit a pole that cut the vehicle nearly in half, killing five people and at least five other people were taken to several hospitals, authorities said.
The unmarked white bus carrying about 30 people hit the pole of a highway exit sign, requiring emergency personnel to climb onto the roof to pull passengers out of windows and free them.
The pole passed through the center of the bus, and that’s where the serious and deceased injury cases occurred, a California Highway Patrol official said.
The five injured were airlifted to hospitals, but have no information about other passengers and about additional injuries or the cause of the crash.
The bus was en route from Southern California to Sacramento on State Route 99 when it crashed around 3:30 a.m. between the cities of Atwater and Livingston through fields in the San Joaquin Valley.
Atwater is a city of 28,000 in Merced County, about 65 miles northwest of Fresno.

The northbound freeway lanes remained closed during the investigation.

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