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Christmas miracle as passengers escape a 21-car pileup on Oklahoma highway without serious injury as freezing rain causes alarm across the state
16:46 GMT, 25 December 2012
A 21-car pileup on an interstate running just outside of Oklahoma City on Christmas morning resulted in only minor injuries and no reported fatalities.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol cited freezing rain as the likely cause of the crash that took place at around 2.50am on Tuesday.
At least a dozen people were transported to local hospitals and treated for unspecified injuries, but authorities said that none of those were critical.
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Danger on the roads: Freezing rain and low visibility caused a 21 car pileup on an Oklahoma interstate
The crash took place on the Westbound side of Interstate 40 by the intersection of Interstate 35 and the roadway was closed for more than five hours while the cars were removed from the scene.
The highway reopened at around 8.15am as more people hit the road in time for Christmas travel.
It is unclear what car started the chain-reaction pileup, but at least one semitrailer jackknifed on the road.
While this was the first major accident of Christmas, it may not be the last as the Gulf Coast states and Plain States brace for impending storms.
In the heartland: The crash took place on Interstate 40 near the cross with Interstate 35
The rain and sleet that made the roads dangerous in Oklahoma City came as part of the storm that is stretching out from Eastern New Mexico along the South.
Some mountainous areas of Arkansas' Ozark Mountains could get up to 10 inches of snow amid warnings travel could become 'very hazardous or impossible' in the northern tier of the state from near whiteout conditions, the National Weather Service said.
Early Tuesday, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said some bridges and overpasses were already becoming slick.
Miraculous: 12 people were transported to local hospitals with injuries but none critical
Kathleen O'Shea with Oklahoma Gas and Electric said the utility was tracking the storm system to see where repair crews might be needed among nearly 800,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas.
Elsewhere, areas of east Texas and Louisiana braced for possible thunderstorms as forecasters eyed a swath of the Gulf Coast from east Texas to the Florida Panhandle for the threat of any tornadoes.
Storms expected during the day Tuesday along the Gulf Coast could bring strong tornadoes or winds of more than 75 mph, heavy rain, quarter-sized hail and dangerous lightning in Louisiana and Mississippi, the weather service said.
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