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ORLAND, Calif. - Nine people were killed and as many as 50 injured Thursday when a tour bus collided with other vehicles and burst into flames in Northern California, authorities said.

California Highway Patrol dispatcher Curtis Pahlka said the crash was reported at 5:41 p.m. near the town of Orland, about 100 miles north of Sacramento, and prompted police to close a section of Interstate 5.

The highway patrol said a FedEx truck crossed the freeway and slammed into the charter bus. Pahlka said a Nissan Altima was also in the collision.

"At this point, there are nine confirmed fatalities," he said.

Glenn County sheriff's dispatcher Pauline Spooner said the bus passengers were high school seniors on their way to visit the campus of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif.

Spooner also said several people were airlifted to local hospitals with injuries.

"Humboldt State University is deeply saddened by a tragic accident that occurred earlier this evening involving a charter bus filled with prospective students," the school said in a statement. "They were on their way to visit campus for the April 11 Spring Preview event. Our hearts go out to those who have been affected, and we are here to support them, and their families, in any way possible."

The school said the bus was traveling on I-5 near Orland when it collided with the FedEx truck.

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