News World US More than a dozen dead in horror US highway crash
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More than a dozen dead in horror US highway crash

california highway crash
Police at the scene of the deadly crash between a semi-trailer and a 4WD. Photo: AAP
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A semi-trailer has crashed into an SUV carrying 25 people on a highway in southern California, killing 13 and leaving others injured.

State highway patrol chief Omar Watson said 12 people died at the scene, about 18 kilometres north of the Mexico border, and another after arriving at hospital.

Emergency officials earlier reported 15 killed and more people in the four-wheel-drive.

Police say they are not clear what caused the early morning crash involving a tractor-trailer full of gravel on a highway through fields in the agricultural region, about 160 kilometres east of San Diego.

It was unclear if the 4WD had stopped at a stop sign before crossing into the path of the truck, Mr Watson said.

california highway crash
Police say there were more than 20 people in the 4WD, which was designed to hold eight or nine. Photo: AAP

The truck struck the left side of the 4WD, which was then pushed off the road.

“Obviously, that vehicle’s not meant for that many people,” Mr Watson said.

“It’s unfortunate that many people were put into that vehicle because there’s not enough safety constraints to safely keep those people in that vehicle.”

He said numerous people were ejected. The 4WD was a Ford Expedition that would typically seat eight to nine people legally.

Multiple people from the vehicle were flown or sent to hospitals for treatment for injuries that included fractures and head trauma.

Four were flown to Desert Regional Medical Centre in Palm Springs in critical condition and the others were stable. The truck driver was hospitalised with moderate injuries.

Macario Mora, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection in Yuma and El Centro, said the immigration status of those in the 4WD was unknown and being investigated.

“It was an unusual number of people in an SUV but we don’t know who they were,” Mr Mora said, adding that they could have been farmworkers.

A harvest is underway in the region of most of the winter lettuce and other leafy greens eaten in the United States.