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Updated Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.:
West Virginia State Police say two multi-vehicle accidents on Interstate 81 during whiteout conditions have left two people dead and more than half a dozen others injured.
State police spokesman Lt. Michael Baylous says the fatalities occurred in a seven-vehicle wreck in the northbound lanes around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday. Five to seven people were taken by helicopters to hospitals in the area.
Another accident involving 10 vehicles occurred in the southbound lanes in the same area. Numerous injuries were reported.
Baylous says both pileups occurred in whiteout conditions caused by heavy snow and wind.
The interstate is shut down while police investigate the accidents. Motorists are being detoured onto Route 11.
The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the southbound crash.
Original post from Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.:
Three people are dead following a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 81 in the Falling Waters area of Berkeley County.
A Berkeley County Central Dispatch supervisor says the wreck involved seven vehicles, including a tractor-trailer. The supervisor identified herself as operator 4.
She says the accident occurred in the northbound lanes and was reported at 8:37 a.m. Wednesday. Witnesses told dispatchers that road conditions were slippery at the time.
Two other accidents also were reported on I-81 in the area Wednesday morning.
Sgt. Michael Baylous of the West Virginia State Police said in a news release that I-81 is closed in both directions and will remain closed for 2-3 hours or until the investigation is complete.
Baylous said an alternate route has been established along Route 11, which parallels I-81, however, travel is slow on the alternate route due to heavy traffic volume.
Both the northbound and southbound lanes are closed.