2 dead, 44 hurt in bus crash in Mississippi

BYHALIA, Miss. -- The Latest on the winter storm hitting parts of the South (all times local):

4 p.m.

A Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman says two people are dead and 44 others have been injured aboard a tour bus that overturned on an icy highway in the northern part of the state near Memphis.

Sgt. Joey Miller with Troop E of the Mississippi Highway Patrol says in a statement that the bus was carrying 46 people in all and that the crash was "weather-related." He did not elaborate in the statement emailed to The Associated Press but said the injured were taking to several hospitals and were suffering a wide variety of injuries.

The crash came as a pre-winter storm dropped sleet and light snow on parts of the South.

The statement says the bus was southbound on Interstate 269 in Mississippi's Desoto County — headed from Huntsville, Alabama, to Tunica, Mississippi — when it crashed at 12:35 p.m.


3:45 p.m.

A tow truck has been hooked up to the tour bus that overturned on an icy route southeast of Memphis in a pre-winter storm.

Authorities say two people died and several others were hurt, some critically, when the bus overturned shortly after midday Wednesday in northern Mississippi. The region is southeast of Memphis, Tennessee.

An Associated Press reporter says the red tour bus with white and gray stripes has most of its windows missing and that an odor of gasoline still hung on the air hours after Wednesday's crash. The bus had suffered damage including large scratches on the driver's side of the vehicle.

Workers also are clearing the highway of debris and some of the crashed-out windows could be seen resting on the median.

Traffic headed west on Interstate 269 near the crash site in northern Mississippi remained closed for hours after the crash though eastbound traffic had resumed by Wednesday afternoon. At least eight police vehicles remained on the scene.


3:20 p.m.

A coroner says two people have died and several others are injured, some critically, after a tour bus overturned on an icy highway ramp in northern Mississippi.

DeSoto County sheriff's deputy Alex Coker said the tour bus carrying about 50 people overturned just after midday Wednesday south of Memphis, Tennessee. The crash came as a winter storm has been raking parts of the South.

The county coroner, Josh Pounders, says two people are confirmed dead in the crash where Interstate 269 meets with Interstate 22. He says that the injured have been taken to area hospitals, some in critical condition.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation reports that Interstate 269 in closed in both directions at the interchange.

The road agency reports icing on roads and bridges in 10 north Mississippi counties from a winter storm raking parts of the South.


3 p.m.

The planned launch of an unmanned cargo rocket from Virginia to the International Space Station has been rescheduled because of bad weather.

NASA says the launch is now set for 4:23 a.m. Friday. Blastoff was originally scheduled for early Thursday morning.

The unmanned Cygnus cargo craft will lift off from Wallops Island along the Eastern Shore. It will carry 7,500 pounds of groceries, hardware and research.

One of the science experiments onboard will explore how the universe formed from stardust. Another will explore the pathology of Parkinson's disease. Yet another involves the sustainable fabrication and repair of plastic materials on lengthy space missions.

NASA TV will stream the launch on its website. Visitors can watch the launch from the NASA Wallops Visitor Center grounds and bleachers.


2:30 p.m.

A wintry mix of snow and sleet has led to early closings of schools, churches and museums in west Tennessee.

The National Weather Service said trace amounts of snow had fallen in Memphis and west Tennessee cities by Wednesday afternoon. More snow was forecast to fall Wednesday night and Thursday in the region, with up to 3 inches (7 centimeters) possible in areas such as Dyersburg and Paris.

Threat of inclement weather and deteriorating traffic conditions led Jackson State Community College to dismiss afternoon classes.

Some schools in Shelby County also did not open or closed early due to heating issues. News outlets reported that Shelby County Schools called off after-school activities and Tennessee College of Applied Technology canceled evening classes.


2 p.m.

Sleet and light snow fell in Mississippi, where a tour bus overturned a slick road as lingering precipitation mixed with cold temperatures to send the Deep South into the freezer Wednesday, and forecasters said other places also could get a wintry mix.

After days of heavy rain and storms along a cold front, flurries left a thin layer of snow atop vehicles in western Mississippi overnight, and a Mississippi River bridge turned white in Greenville, Mississippi.

New outlets reported that several people were hurt when a tour bus overturned on a slick highway in DeSoto County, Mississippi, south of south of Memphis, Tennessee, where after-school activities were canceled because of the weather. The Mississippi Department of Transportation said there were reports of ice on roads and bridges in adjoining counties.



Forecasters say light snow and freezing rain are possible as far as the northwest corner of Alabama, but no accumulation is expected as a winter storm sweeps across parts of the South.

Low temperatures dropped into the 20s, and forecasters say the chilly weather will spread.

The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning for Louisiana through western Alabama as far south as the Gulf Coast into Thursday. Forecasters say temperatures could drop into the upper 20s.

A flash flood watch remained in effect for north Georgia and the Carolinas, which forecaster say could get another 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain.

With wind chills in New Orleans predicted to drop as low as 29 degrees, officials activated the city's "freeze plan" Wednesday, arranging for free shelter at several locations for homeless people.